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Petition demands Obama stay away from Arkansas after recent tornadoes

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On Saturday, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., announced that President Obama would travel to Arkansas Wednesday to visit communities devastated by recent tornadoes. But a number of people don't want Obama there, and have started an online petition to keep him away, Jim Hoft reported at the Gateway Pundit Sunday.

"We the people of Arkansas do not want or need Barack Obama in our state," says the petition, started Sunday by a person identified as Arkansas resident Amy White. "He has never been here or paid us any attention. Our tornado victims have already been through way more than anyone should have to endure.. they do not need another storm of media and secret service and everything else a visit from a President entails to upset their destroyed lives."

"We respectfully ask that he send the money that would be spent visiting here to reconstruction efforts and stay away," White adds. "We do not want him here and we do not like being used as a photo opportunity."

As of this writing, 492 people have signed the petition. The goal is 1,000 signatures.

So far, people from across the country have signed the petition. Signatures have also come from as far away as Russia, Latvia and Brazil.

One person said that local churches are doing more for tornado-stricken residents than the government ever could and wondered: "Any chance he'll squeeze a round of golf in after the photo ops?"

"We have our governor here and he can let him know what it looks like. Our people are still trying to clean up after this storm and we don't need things to halt just because he is coming to town," said another petitioner.

Another person noted that it only took a few people to get Condoleezza Rice to cancel her planned speech at Rutgers and expressed hope the president would follow her lead. Several people said the money spent on the trip would be better used to help those devastated by the storms. One person suggested Obama take a "selfie" and leave the state alone.

Storms tore through the central part of the state, killing some 15 people and injuring over 150. Over 260 homes were destroyed along with a number of businesses.

Obama, KSDK said, has already declared Faulkner County a major disaster area, making it eligible for federal assistance. Pryor praised Obama's visit in a statement, noting that assistance is forthcoming.

"We have disaster relief funding headed our way, but there's more we can do to give Arkansans the help they need," he said. "I'm pleased the president is headed to Arkansas and can see the devastation firsthand."

A report at NBC said Obama would adopt the role of "comforter-in-chief" adding that he would be visiting "home soil." The storm was rated as an EF-4, and, KSDK added, hurled a truck from Mayflower, Ark., to Vilonia, a distance of 27 miles.

Update: As of 12:35 p.m. Pacific time, the petition appears to have been removed. We have reached out to the site hosting the petition to determine the reason. More information can be seen here.

Update #2: The original petition is now back up and can be viewed here.

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