The president and me

My first experience seeing the president of the United States in person wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be.

I had to work when he came to Cedar Rapids July 10 to speak at Kirkwood Community College, but my boss, who had obtained a ticket herself, excitedly told me when I

President Obama speaks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, July 10, 2012

asked for time off, “Sure! We can ride together!”

But it was tough pinpointing exactly what time we needed to be at the college to avoid the crowd. I found out later that some people were there at 6 a.m. to stand in line.

Tickets at that point were pointless because according to one police officer manning the yellow tape, “They give more tickets than they have seats, just to get you out here.”

My boss had a meeting so I went ahead and met my daughter in the parking lot. We saw many people walking back to their cars and I was going to ask them why, but the look on their faces told me, “Don’t do it.” We found out that people were being told they wouldn’t get in but we had to try anyway.

Lori and I spent the next 1/2 hour trying to figure out how we would get into Johnson Hall. We had our press passes, after all, but I was told we needed a “special” media pass. (And now I know.)

We looked at the two long lines that merged into one line toward the scanning machine and picked the shortest one (which wasn’t that much shorter).

That’s when I saw my boss walking toward the front of the line and I took off after her.

Connie’s husband had gone to Kirkwood a lot earlier and was standing closer to the scanners, so when Lori and I got to them, I invited myself to budge.

Lori was worried people would be mad at us, but I assured her by saying, “We’re with the press; they can’t be mad at us!.”

Soon after we got through the scanners and into the “over flow” area, President Obama arrived and they locked the gates. I was really surprised that he came out to speak to the crowd at all, so I quickly got into position to take photos.

As I snapped pictures, he talked briefly about why he was here and how much he liked the Midwest. He shook a few hands before he entered the building to speak to the crowd inside. We were able to listen to his speech through a loudspeaker, and so being stuck outside wasn’t so bad.

So my first experience with the president wasn’t the greatest, but it sure wasn’t the worst, and I look forward to paying close attention to what will surely become a more heated race as the November elections draw closer.

*Read the news article July 17 in the Hiawatha Advocate!

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