Both of you are correct imho.
Michael, not sure which part of Florida you're in but the Akayama Ryu Winter Camp is in Orange Beach, Al in mid-January 2010. I'm carded to do a seminar in Shodokan Aikido there as well.
See here - www.akayamaryu.com
The thing about training in one range however is that if you master it then you can stand up to just about anything as long as you can maintain it. This goes back to Tomiki's method in that many people will just find it easier to grapple and go into newaza if range is closed to the point where Aikido waza is difficult. To me that makes sense on a practical level.
However I have also found that when I refused myself the option of going to the ground I improved my ma ai, posture, grounding, tsukuri, power generation, tegatana skills and found a bunch of subtle, non-physical things within the Aikido-specific paradigm that took my training to another level. The result was that I never had to worry about grappling at close range because the situation of getting into closed ma ai or being taken down was almost always prevented.
At this point in my Aikido development I found that things most often went my way as long as I was standing and facing my opponent. So I decided to remove the assumption of standing and awareness of the attacker and this is what guided me to Jujutsu to address the potentiality of being on my back and unaware of the attacker's approach. Once again I learnt some things that I just could not from the other paradigm.
This is why I am of the belief that to truly understand the method we have to create certain conditions that allow us to explore it deeply before going towards other options that though easier and more intuitive, will not assist us in developing mastery if that is our goal.
Just my thoughts.