“This town, Edison, was named after somebody who was not only one of history’s greatest inventors but also a pretty savvy small business owner,” said Obama after meeting with the businessmen and women at the tiny but renowned Tastee Sub Shop on Plainfield Avenue for about 25 minutes. “The small business people who are with me here today exemplify that same entrepreneurial spirit.”
As I posted earlier, I did not make an effort to get to the venue despite it being just a mile from where I live. I probably would have if I hadn’t been front row at an Obama event last year. I was able to take some good pictures of Marine One as it flew right outside my balcony on the way to its landing spot just outside my apartment complex.
The White House has released its schedule for tomorrow‘s trip to Edison. If you missed it yesterday, the White House now lets you subscribe to Obama and Biden’s schedule. Some of my questions were answered here. Looks like at least part of it will be streamed on the White House website.
The President departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
The President departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Newark, New Jersey
Andrews Air Force Base
Travel Pool Coverage
(Call Time 10:45AM – Virginia Gate, Andrews Air Force Base)
The President arrives in Newark, New Jersey
Newark Liberty International Airport
The President meets with a group of small business owners to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses
Edison, New Jersey, Tastee Sub Shop
Travel Pool Coverage
The President delivers a statement to the press
Edison, New Jersey, Tastee Sub Shop
Travel Pool Coverage
The President attends a DNC finance event
Four Seasons Hotel, New York City
The President attends a DNC finance event
New York City, Private Residence
The President departs Newark, New Jersey en route Andrews Air Force Base
Newark Liberty International Airport
The President arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
Andrews Air Force Base
Travel Pool Coverage
The President arrives at the White House
I’ve been blogging about this trip the last two days. You can find those posts here.
By the way, you can follow tweets related to Obama’s trip to Edison below.
As always you can leave a comment here, reach me by e-mail or .
What it led me to wonder is, how much does a trip like this cost the tax payers? Now, anyone who knows me, reads this blog regularly or follows me on twitter knows that I am far from one of those ridiculous right wing fanatic who claims that Obama should never leave Washington for anything. But how much does a trip like this cost the tax payers?
According to 2002 article for the Washington Post by Mike Allen “taxpayers pay the full $57,000-an-hour cost of flying Air Force One regardless of the trip’s purpose.” According to NBC4 in Columbus, Ohio that number has jumped to $69,000 per hour in 2010. That same article mentions that the costs of the Secret Service amount to $45,000 per day. Earlier today I drove by the venue that President Obama is going to be at tomorrow and saw new security cameras set up everywhere. The Burger King across the street saw part of its parking lot covered by a tent (for the press pool?). Verizon trucks were doing work around the building and across the street. The intersection I mentioned yesterday has new “traffic cams”.
Friends of mine in Edison received automated phone calls warning of road closures in and around the area tomorrow.
The store he will be speaking from will be closed to the public until 3 PM. Obviously they don’t need to be compensated because the boost they will get from the “Obama effect”. I’m sure a lot of people will make their way there over the next few weeks and months just because Obama has been there. But what about the pizzeria across the street that will lose business because of the street being closed all day? Do they get reimbursed in some fashion? I doubt it, but can’t seem to find anything on it online. What about the Burger King across the street? Is taxpayer money going to a company that big? If you find articles, videos or anything else on it please send them my way. I’d be interested to know.
Is this event meeting going to be aired on the White House website? For a couple of thousand Dollars shouldn’t he at least be doing a larger public event giving more people the opportunity to see the President in person?
I sent a tweet about this earlier today. Tastee Subs is a popular dining spot here in Edison. It is however located on arguably the worst intersection in town. The parking lot is really small. On an average day the waiting period at the traffic light is well over 5 minutes so I’m going to assume that the intersection will be closed all day on Wednesday. You can find their menu here.
Anyone care to guess what he’ll order?
This place is 1.5 miles from where I live (Edit: I just Google the place and it is actually 1.3 miles). I have never been to this place but a good friend of mine just told me that the place is as small form inside as it looks from outside.
Obama will head to Tastee Sub Shop on Plainfield Avenue in Edison once he arrives in the Garden State in the afternoon, according to a White House official and a congressional source. Once there, he’ll host a roundtable discussion about the economy with local small business owners.
Obama is expected to promote a bill expanding loan programs and tax breaks for small businesses that Democrats hope will pass the Senate this week.
The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ was buzzing today. It was a buzz I’m sure has never been present for any New Jersey Devils game….ever. Today was not your typical Sunday in Newark though. Barack Obama was back in New Jersey to campaign for Governor Jon Corzine’s reelection.
I’ve been spoiled recently with all the great seats at these rallies here in New Jersey so today felt like I was sitting a long way away. We were up in the nosebleed section but managed to work our way down to the lower level unfortunately just now close enough to get a better view. What made it even worse was that it appeared as though they took people from the nosebleed section and brought them down right in front of the stage moments before Governor Corzine and President Obama took the stage. I got there around 9:30 and got a decent enough spot in line. Gates opened at 11:30 AM. This was the 2nd event of the day schdeduled in New Jersey for Obama and Corzine yet Obama hadn’t even left Washington yet. I had figured we’d be there for a while.
The event itself seemed to go by a lot quicker compared to other recent events. We didn’t have as many local speakers so that definitely helped with the pace. The event just started abruptly. The national anthem was already a couple of verses in before the crowd got up. There was no announcement made asking everyone to stand as it is usually done. Three congressmen spoke but the crowd didn’t care much at all even when they were using Obama campaign slogans of “Fired Up!” and “Yes we Can.” The last congressman Frank Pallone introduced Loretta Weinberg who interestingly enough was at the event early. Was she not at the Camden event?
Loretta Weinberg used the same themes as her speeches last week as the rallies last week. He speech centered around the diverse crowd and how it reflected the Democrats. Senator Weinberg also referred to Christie as a “pretender” adding that he was “trying to sell himself as an agent of change”. The Senator went on to add that if Christie wants to talk change he should come to her because she “broke more glass ceilings than Chris Christie has had automobile accidents….and that’s not easy”. Ouch! This of course is a knock on Chris Christie’s driving record. I was going to add that unlike the events of last week we got no mentions of Sarah Palin or Mark Sanford. Why did they drop that? I thought it was a pretty effective attack on Christie.
Up next was Mayor Cory Booker of Newark. I assumed he was there to introduce Jon Corzine but I was wrong. If you haven’t heard him speak you definitely should. He’s going to be next Senator (once Lautenberg retires) or next Governor from New Jersey. Doesn’t hurt that Barack Obama seems to be a fan as he mentions him at all his New Jersey stops. This is a mayor who has done great work in Newark. This is a mayor who actually goes on patrol with the city’s cops at night actually being in touch with what is going on in the streets of his city. Not to anyone’s surprise he got a louder cheer at this rally than Governor Corzine. Cory Booker joined a long list of people who’ve pitched Jon Corzine in a better fashion then John Corzine. Booker spoke with his usual optimism adding “Yes We Can in Washington!….Yes We Can in Trenton!….Yes We Can in Newark!….Yes We Can!” Cory Booker rallied the crowd to stand behind Barack Obama and Jon Corzine in these tough times.
Crowd was fired up during this long pause. This DJ did a great job getting the crowd fired up just as he did at the Obama and Biden rallies last week here in NJ. There was actually an attempted wave. That one just confused me.
Governor Corzine referred to this as a “victory rally”. He once again referred to the diverse crowd. He reminded everyone (just in case we had forgotten) that a year ago at the polls we said “Yes We Can!” Corzine added that just like President Obama he believes that “Health Care is a right and not a privilege.” Corzine emphasized that “Christie is wrong where it matters most.” The Governor hit his opponent hard on education and healthcare. Chris Christie’s comments about pre-school being “babysitting” keeps hurting him as every speaker at every rally I’ve been at has mentioned it. Corzine referred to himself in 3rd person a couple of times which was awkward. Corzine made sure to mention that Chris Christie was campaigning today with the “extremist” Joe Wilson of South Carolina.
Has anyone heard an official attendance number from this rally? Someone mentioned to be that White House Officials said 12,000. I saw Corzine people say 13,500. I had estimated a crowd of around 10,000 from how packed the arena was.
The ovation for Barack Obama was just huge. New Jersey loves Barack Obama. Phil Elliot of the Associated Press compared the crowd noise to the 2008 campaign crowds. Barack Obama started by saying that he was back as he promised and that “they” couldn’t keep him away. Was that a dig at the recent GOP comments from Christie people saying Obama visits aren’t helping Corzine? Obama pointed out “one of the finest mayors in the country Cory Booker is in the house.” Obama went after Christie saying he acts as though New Jersey is the only state effected by the recession. Obama pointed out that recession didn’t start under his watch. Obama talked about the selective memory and amnesia about how we got into this mess. The President said that “we don’t mind cleaning up after someone else’s mess.” Obama brought out the “mop” portion of speech too. Implying that if GOP wouldn’t help clean the least they could do was not complain about “how we’re holding the mop.” One thing about Obama that I’ve noticed, he responds to every single “I love you Obama!” each and every time. Obama pointed out that Governor is the first NJ Governor in 60 years to reduce size of government in state. Obama said to not worry about political nonsense in ads and to look at the actual record. Obama said Corzine had been prudent with spending. He applauded Corzine’s expansion of children health insurance and added that the other guy has nothing to say on health care. Obama ended with an abbreviated version of the “fired up” story. Does anyone know if it was because the congressman beat the story to death before Obama even got to the event?
The doors were scheduled to open at 3 PM. I went with my sister and both of us thought we were a lot later then we wanted to be and had given up all hopes for a good sight line at the rally. Keep in mind that we had about an hour drive to get there. Much to our surprise at 1:00 PM there wasn’t a line at all. There were a couple of hundred people just walking around so we immediately went towards the gates and lined up at the front of what would be one of the four lines going in. That was victory number one on the day for us. Waiting in line for two hours provided plenty of time to talk to others also lined up. The crowd was filled with people young (I met kids as young as 5) and old. Black, White, Brown and pretty much everything in between. While in line I was interviewed by Nyier Abdou of the Star Ledger. I’m trying to get my hands on a copy of the full interview.
Obama and Corzine supporters rally at Farleigh Dickinson University
Yes, this was the view I had from my spot in the line. It only got better as we got inside. Check out the view of the stage we had inside.
The atmosphere there was electric. It could be because this was indoors but this crowd of 3,500 felt as thought it was as loud as the 17,500 who were in attendance back in July. Like I said before, getting there at 1 PM I wasn’t expecting a good spot in the line. Had I been further back in line I probably would have gone into the bleachers rather then standing but getting into the front row obviously changed all that.
Once all the local officials had given their speeches urging the crowd to vote for the Democratic team on November 3rd we sat through about a hour break. During this break reports came out that Caroline Kennedy had been added to the event. What an addition! I knew she was going to campaigning with Jon Corzine, I just wasn’t expecting it to be at this event. Very happy that I was able to add her on my list of prominent Democrats who I have heard speak in person. While we are talking about this break have I mentioned the new law that makes it mandatory for all Democrats to be fans of Michael Jackson? Funny moment as we waited one of the Secret Service agents brought out a binder to the podium presumably carrying Obama’s speech. He got a huge ovation from the crowd and just shook his head as he left the stage. The D.J made sure to get that agent one more big applause.
Loretta Weinberg was up first after the break as we headed towards the main event. She gave pretty much the same speech she did at the Clinton event last night. She talked about the faces of the Democratic party in the audience mentioning the diversity. She even had the same height joke! For those who don’t know…Loretta Weinberg is a really short woman. I was too busy texting people about Caroline Kennedy that I hardly paid attention to Weinberg until she started to tease who was backstage (most people were not aware that Kennedy had been added to the event). Weinberg started talking there being a big advocate for women standing backstage. The crowd immediately thought about Obama and started to cheer before Weinberg continued by adding “She….” Senator Weinberg talked about the previous generation of Kennedy’s and then called up “our neighbor” Caroline Kennedy.
It was great to see Caroline Kennedy get a huge ovation. I’m a big Kennedy person. Obviously wasn’t around for Jack or Bobby but was always fascinated by Ted Kennedy. Every country has that one political family that stands out and without any doubt the Kennedy clan is that. It’s a shame that Caroline Kennedy’s senate bid got derailed last year because she would be one hell of a senator. She is on the right side of the issues. She may not be the world’s most powerful speakers but her words do have a depth to them. It’s a shame that a lot of people almost looked at is “payback” for the Democrats after what had happened to Sarah Palin. What a big time joke that was. Caroline Kennedy is not Sarah Palin. What has Sarah Palin ever done in her life? What has she accomplished? Caroline did a good job pitching for Corzine calling him a friend and saying that “he had made the hard choices” as governor. She talked about how great it was to be back on the campaign trail with “our President Barack Obama.”
Jon Corzine was up next. He started off saying “I’ll get out of the way pretty fast because I know who you came to see.” That got him a nice round of applause. Corzine’s been joking about this at all his rallies but this continues to be a problem. Like I told the Star Ledger in the video above and I know a lot of people agree with me on this, the big names coming in to campaign for Corzine have made a better case for him then he has for himself. That’s just a shame. Like I have been saying Jon Corzine is the right man for the job at this time. How can Christie be campaigning about the corruption in Trenton when reports about his activities keep surfacing on a regular basis? All week long the Corzine and the other local Democrats have been lumping Christie with GOP governors Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford. It’s a brilliant strategy on the part of the Corzine campaign. They should continue this all the way to election day. Corzine also has been effective this week in tying Christie to the Bush/Cheney ways. Corzine also managed to get his mother booed by mentioning that she is a registered Republican. Ouch.
Barack Obama was the main event and he more then delivered his end of the bargain. Everyone knows what a great speaker Barack Obama is but the experience is even better in person. The buzz in the crowd when Obama took the stage was amazing. I go to a ton of sporting events and I have never seen, heard or experienced anything remotely like it. Obama talked about Corzine being a early supporter of his when he first ran for senate in 2004. Obama also pointed out two NJ congressmen who were in attendance and were early supporters of his Presidential run. Obama mentioned that Corzine is a friend of the White House and again mentioned his input into the economic recovery plan. Obama said Corzine was the first New Jersey Governor in 60 years to reduce the size of government (is it just me or does that mean that this added to unemployment?). Obama pitched his health care plan just like he did back in July. He emphasized that he needed the crowd for Health care reform. He said he needed the audience and so did Jon Corzine. Obama made sure to emphasize that it was Christie’s party that got us into this big mess over the last 8 years. Obama added “I’m telling you these folks have a lot of nerves…..they leave this big mess and suddenly they’re complaining about how fast we’re cleaning it up.” Obama knocked the trickle down policies of the GOP but the Democrats have to hope his charisma and powerful speech have a trickle down effect on Corzine and gets him a victory on November 3rd. Obama was so good in his pitch for Jon Corzine he even managed to get something done that even Corzine hasn’t been able to do lately….get a “Corzine!” chant going. Obama joked about the “selective memory” of the opposition. Obama ridiculed Christie’s stance on the economy saying he’s been acting like New Jersey is the only state that is being affected. Earlier this morning I sent out a tweetasking “New Jersey are you fired up for Barack Obama today?” My sister who went to this rally with me had her “Fired Up” T-Shirt on. Little did we know at the time that Barack Obama would finish off with the story on the “Fired Up” lady. I have heard that story a million times but I have to say that it is still great every time you hear it. Like Obama said…it gets you “Fired up….and ready to go!” He said the moral of the story was that “one voice can change a room. And if it can change a room it can change a city….can change a state….can change a country.” He urged the people in the crowd to go knock on doors and make phone calls for Jon Corzine and even joined in on a “4 more years” chant.
The end of the speech is where the madness begins. Being at the front we were prepared for the rush of people that was about to come our way. They really should put some padding on those railings because one of these days someone is going to get hurt pretty bad. We had two little kids in our section and it was a difficult task for their mothers to keep them shielded from the madness. Obama did his handshakes and left. One of the kids in our section had an Obama book that he was trying to get signed. Once Obama left, luckily the mother was able to get Reggie Love’s attention. He was nice enough to take the book to the back and get the book signed by Barack Obama himself. That kid will have one great story to tell for the rest of his life. For those who don’t know Reggie Love he was aformer college basketball player at Duke University (have to enter the obligatory “I hate Duke!” warning here). He actually played for one of the better Duke teams in recent memory.Just look at that roster. He now serves as the “personal aide to the President” or the “Bodyman” as they are called. If you watched West Wing at all think of Dule Hill’s character of “Charlie Young.” That is what Reggie Love does. Did youwatch his cameo at a White House press briefingrecently?
One of the things I love about events like these is that you make new contacts and friends. It happened to be at the Obama rally in July and it happened here again.
Does anyone know why Obama didn’t have the Seal of the President on the Podium? Did someone from the advance team mess up?
Three different women fainted near the front, all in the same general area. It’s amazing to watch the Secret Service in action as they swooped in and carried the women out quickly without causing too much of a distraction as the speeches were going on.
Oh yeah, while this rally was going on Chris Christie was “campaigning” at a diner less than 2 blocks away. Is he setting up for another round of “fat” jokes. What a joke that he’s even trying to get some sympathy that way. Did you guys watch him on the Situation Room today?
I didn’t get to see the protesters before the event but did see one as I got into my car. She just seemed like she was protesting anything and everything because that sign had a lot of stuff on it. I only caught “No to Vaccines” and “No to dirty bombs”.
All in all an amazing experience. I’ll probably add more to this tomorrow as I recall more stuff but this was one of the greatest experiences ever. It’s been an amazing week and the rumor floating around is that Obama will be in Newark before the November 3rd elections. I am definitely looking forward to that. One thing of note was that Senator Lautenberg was present at the event but did not speak. I mentioned on Monday that he didn’t look good then and I continue to wonder whether he is just hanging around until Corzine wins so a Democrat would replace him because I don’t think he will finish his term which ends in 2014.
If you’ve never been to a political rally, make an effort to do so. If you know someone who’s not into politics make sure you drag them along. Watching the likes of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Caroline Kennedy will get them fired up. How many of you have seen Obama in person? How many of you seen any of these figures from this week in person? How about other political figures? Do share your stories. I’ll post a few more pictures below but a full gallery is present here.
I just got back from my trip to Orlando today at 4:30 AM but….I am not blogging about that just yet. I’ll try to do that tonight or tomorrow.
What I did today might be one better. I got a chance to attend my first political rally. Those who know me know how much I love politics but somehow I had never taken the opportunity to go to a rally or a protest. Well I finally put that to rest today. I should mention that I am not a NJ voter. I am not even an American voter. I was born and raised in Pakistan and then lived in Toronto, Canada and thus hold Canadian citizenship.
President Barack Obama was in New Jersey to campaign for Governor Jon Corzine. Despite every attempt by the unorganized Corzine team the event did turn out great. Little advice to the Governor’s team (and pretty much anyone else organizing an event of this scale….and involving the President of the United States)…..it might be a good idea to fill in the staff, security and volunteers about what is actually going on so they can keep the crowd under control and not create chaos.
The rally was originally supposed to take place at Rutgers University (more on that in a bit). Then they changed it to the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Some genius at the Corzine camp it turns out thought that it would be a great idea to not accept the RSVPs done by excited Obama fans like myself. What that created was just pure chaos.
I got there around 11 AM and that is when parking opened. I didn’t make it in to my seat until 2:30 PM. You do the math. It seemed like the staff and volunteers through no fault of their own were just winging it as they went along. I was in line at the will call window and just a few feet away when one of the volunteers looked at the RSVP I had in my hand and said that the piece of paper wasn’t good enough and would not help me get in. He directed me to another line. About half an hour later a different volunteer moved the entire line from one spot to one a decent distance away. Fair enough. If that helps the crowd control…so be it. But, just a little while later they moved the line AGAIN!. Then an actual paid employee of the campaign came up to us and said we could move over to the outdoor lawn area and watch on the big screen or stay in line for a shot at the tickets. I chose to stay in line. Along the way I met a wonderful couple who were in the same boat as me (I will edit in their names just as soon as I get in touch with them). The 3 of us and plenty of others decided to tough it out in the heat with the mindset that we had to get in. About 15 minutes later and about 50 yards away from the Secret Service checkpoint a member of the event staff announced that there were no more tickets and that we either had to watch from the lawn or go home. Keep in mind that a large chunk of those people had printed e-mails with their RSVP information. This couple got out and decided to head home. I decided to walk right around and take a shot. I got back into the line that was going to the security checkpoints. I got to the security checkpoint with the RSVP to be told that it was not good enough and I would have to go over to Will call. Yes, the same will call from which they moved me hours earlier. So I get back into line at will call and they tell me they don’t have me on their list and told me they couldn’t do anything for me. After a little arguing over the meaning of the term “RSVP” I decided to just go back home and watch on TV when I ran into the couple from earlier. They directed me to another member of the event staff who had what looked like hundreds of tickets in his hand. They had received two from him. I went up to the same man and without checking my RSVP or any ID he just asked me how many I needed. I was there by myself but requested 6 from him and got them. Four of them I was able to turn over really quickly to a family that had been in another line. The 5th one I ended up giving to this older woman (pictured below) who kept us entertained all through the wait process. How this woman had this energy in the heat and with all the chaos around us I’ll never know but she was drawing a crowd. The atmosphere in the lines was electric. Just random people all in the same boat and making instant connections. There were stories being told by those fortunate enough to be at the inauguration and then there were many like me who just soaked it all in for the first time.
I got in and was amazed by how awesome my seats were. I just could not believe that after all the frustrations of the day a seat that good was actually available to this event.
The crowd despite the long wait was into it from the start. Published reports put the crowd size at 17,500 and it definitely felt that way. The energy was just amazing. The place was loud and buzzing even before the main event. I got a chance to speak to Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent for the Washington Times and she said this crowd reminded of her of the Obama’08 campaign. Corzine kept his speech short and sweet. I know he’s not exactly the most popular man in New Jersey but he is the right man for the job at this time. The economy is in shambles and I respect his background here. Depending on who you want to believe he probably was on the short list for Treasury Secretary.
I understand the uproar over the Rutgers University budget cuts but isn’t that pretty much a sign of the times? Some like me even speculated whether the switch in location had anything to do with a potential Rutgers student protest. The school has been facing funding cuts for years while tuition goes up but does anyone really expect that to change under Christie? People here complain about the University expanding the football stadium by 12,000 seats this summer as the program grows every year but fail to understand that a large chuck of that is money that the athletic department raised. Not to mention how much money the football program brings in for the school. The exposure the team has received nationally via ESPN has helped bring in more and more students to the school. The school will have a record high in enrollment next year. One thing the large chunk of this decade has shown is that Republican leadership just didn’t cut it. I want a Democratic governor, especially one with Corzine’s financial background working with Obama. I have lived in Central NJ since 2000. I think the infrastructure here has improved dramatically over the last couple of years.
Barack Obama was just phenomenal. The man can hold any crowd anywhere in the palm of his hands. Even little scripted details like him taking off his jacket on a really hot day come across as genuine. The energy he brings to the table is amazing. He gave a shout out to Mayor Cory Booker of Newark. Keep an eye out for him. This man will be a senator or governor from NJ someday. Really happy that I did take the opportunity to go today. To borrow a little phrase from the campaign he had the crowd “fired up and ready to go”. The ovation when he took the stage was just insane. There is no other way to describe it. That place was loud….about as loud as any outdoor facility can be. I really do hope he comes down here again this election cycle as it looks like we just maybe headed for a close election here. Just the announcement of him showing up got Corzine a 4 point bump in the polls and despite what some are saying he will get a major bump after this event.
I sat in a group that was pretty diverse. There were people who were old and young, black, brown, white…and everything in between. Looking around the section I was it just struck me right away how much the average person connects with Obama right away. I had these 2 guys sitting in front of me in a suit and tie who were fiddling around with their blackberries throughout the Obama speech while most of the other people spent most of the speech on their feet. Young and old alike.
Corzine will definitely benefit from the Obama appearance. Definitely helped him raise some money today. I fully expect Obama to be back in NJ before November. The buzz around the place today was that Michelle Obama is coming next month. Who is the big name Republican that Christie can counter with?