Sen. Dan Sullivan had been on the tarmac at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, first in line to greet President Obama as he began his historic three-day visit to the Frontier State.
Sullivan, his wife and his daughter were also on hand for Obama’s powerful climate change speech at the conclusion of the State Department’s Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience.
Separately, Sullivan met privately with national ministers who flew to Anchorage for the climate change summit.
During Obama’s visit, many other Alaska Republicans and state business leaders avoided the president’s public appearances.
After all, the Democratic president has outlawed oil and gas development in thousands of acres of Alaska lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and parts of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska and offshore Arctic Ocean.
But Sullivan viewed his limited access to the chief executive as a chance to lobby for Alaskan issues. “I think anytime a leader of the country, and in this case leaders of the other nations, shine a spotlight on Alaska, it’s an opportunity,” he explained.
During his meetings with foreign officials, Sullivan said he discussed problems of Arctic security. “I’ve heard a lot of concern about the Russian militarization of the Arctic, the fact that Vladimir Putin is building huge forces in the Arctic and the United States is actually looking at reducing them. I think that’s a strategic mistake.”