President Obama embraces UAW member Ghana Goodwin-Dye who introduced him during a Labor Day speech at Detroit’s Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, Sept. 5
Freep.com: In perhaps some of his strongest words of support for organized labor, President Barack Obama told a riverfront crowd of thousands in Detroit today that “As long as I’m in the White House, I’m going to stand up for collective bargaining.”
He said organized labor is responsible for the rise of the middle class and the core of the nation’s economy and that legislative battles to curb the rights of organized labor is a threat to the nation as a whole.
“When I hear they’re trying to take collective bargaining away, trying to pass right to work laws, I know it’s not about economics it’s about politics,” he said, prompting a chant from the crowd of “Four more years.”
President Obama departs the White House aboard Marine One on August 30. The President is scheduled to deliver remarks at the American Legion Annual Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center later today
Pjstar: Forgive Tim and Diana Wheeler if they sometimes slip and refer to President Obama by his first name. After all, the Wheelers are quite possibly the only townsfolk in Alpha to know the leader of the free world on a first-name basis.
“Barack is coming to Alpha!” Tim Wheeler, 53, crowed with a chuckle Tuesday at Caterpillar Inc.’s Building HH, where he is a section manager.
Not that the Wheelers would be so informal Wednesday, when there’s a good chance – yet again – that they’ll get a few minutes to chat with their presidential pal. “We knew him before he was president,” Diane Wheeler, 50, said from Alpha. “We got in the habit of calling him by his first name. Out of respect, now it’s ‘Mister President.'”
Mind you, the Wheelers are no heavy-hitting politicos or deep-pocket contributors. They’re just workaday people who just happen to have the ear of the most powerful man on the planet. And when Obama saunters into the Country Corners Farm Market, the Wheelers stand the best chance of the Alpha’s 671 residents for a presidential one-on-one. It’s a special relationship, stretching from a hardscrabble farming burg to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “We consider him a friend,” Diane Wheeler said.
The connection comes via son Marcus Wheeler, who in 2004 was a 19-year-old in dire need of a liver transplant. At the time, Tim Wheeler faced the loss of his 28-year job at Butler Manufacturing, which would leave Galesburg the next year. No job meant no insurance.
Meanwhile, Obama, then a state senator from Chicago, was campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat. On May 15 of that year, he made an unplanned stop at Galesburg’s Labor Temple, to talk with 25 local labor leaders. One was Wheeler, of United Steelworkers Local 2629.
When he got a chance with Obama, Wheeler sobbed as he told of his son’s need of a second transplant and expensive drugs. Obama promised to seek help via Medicare.
Two months later, die-hard Democrats Tim and Diana Wheeler flipped on their TV to see Obama address the Democratic National Convention, as John Kerry’s keynote speaker. A riveting speech bolstered his national gravitas, in part with the heartfelt plea, “We have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs. … More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on.”
Stunned to tears, the Wheelers vowed to support Obama the next week at a Kewanee rally. Tim Wheeler approached Obama, who immediately said, “I want you to know: Every day I say a prayer for Marcus.” Thereafter, Obama would use the Wheeler story on the stump. Meanwhile, Tim Wheeler got a new job, at Cat, where insurance covered another two liver transplants for his son. In 2006, Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” mentioned Galesburg several times, including the value of on-the-road encounters with people like the Wheelers: “Those were the stories you missed on a private jet at 40,000 feet.”
Later, they there were more meet-ups. When Marcus had treatment at the University of Chicago Hospitals, his dad met Michelle Obama in a hallway. She said her husband often prayed for the family. Later, as a U.S. senator, Obama gave a speech at the University of Illinois. Marcus Wheeler, en route to a bachelor’s degree in math, got a front-row seat. To start the speech, Obama mouthed, “Hi, Marcus.”
And in 2009, before Obama toured Cat here, Tim Wheeler was picked to join 200 workers to meet with Obama. Through the throng, the president summoned Wheeler for a few personal words for the first time since inauguration.
“How ya doing?” Wheeler asked.
“Oh,” Obama said with a grin, “I’ve been kinda busy these days.” ….
The photographer: I attended the final Colorado campaign stop that Barack Obama made on 01 Nov 2008, a few days prior to the election …. I actually cried taking this photograph.
I’ve been to thousands of political rallies. I’ve been a delegate, a campaign worker, a political activist. I’ve shaken hands with lots of players in this game. Politics doesn’t usually get to me anymore. I have laughed, screamed, spoken out, marched, or swore… but never cried until that day in Pueblo. When Michelle Obama finished her pep talk and introduced her husband, I looked through my camera’s viewfinder and cried.
This photograph is special because it captures a personal moment between husband and wife, in front of a great public, and conveys an emotion we don’t normally see.
I cried over the personal sacrifice of this couple in making this run for the highest office of our nation. But I also cried because their hope and courage revived in me what led me into politics all those years, rallies, and campaigns ago: belief in the audacity of hope to change our circumstances. I actually believe in this man and in his campaign, in his drive to bring a populist movement to life.
….I do believe this photo has historical merit because it shows a personal yet public moment from the last days of a long and arduous campaign. It exhibits love, which may seem an odd thing to convey in a political campaign, but actually may be the driving force behind why any politician, activist, or photographer does what they do.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Pasadena, June 13: ….. “let me tell you something about your President … when he returns home after a long day traveling around the country …. he always tells me not about how hard the day was but about the people he’s met along the way.
And I see in those quiet moments late at night, after we’ve put the girls to bed, and he’s hunched over his desk, and he’s reading everything – letters people have sent him. That’s what keeps him motivated. He reads those letters. A letter from the woman dying of cancer whose health insurance wouldn’t cover her care. Those are the letters he’s reading …
And I see the sadness and the worry that’s creasing his face. And I hear the passion and the determination in his voice. He says, “You know, Mich, you won’t believe what these folks are going through.” He says, “It’s not right. Still not right. And we’ve got to fix this. We have to do more.”
…..when it comes to the people he meets and the stories he hears, he has a memory like a steel trap …. if he’s had a few minutes and a decent conversation, he will never forget your story. It becomes imprinted on his heart. And that is what he carries with him every day – that collection of hopes, and dreams, and struggles.
…. Starting first thing in the morning and going late into the night, hunched over every briefing, he reads every word of every memo so that he is more prepared than the people briefing him, writing notes, asking questions. That is who your President is. That’s who you elected, because all those wins and losses, trust me, are not wins and losses for him. They’re wins and losses for the folks whose stories he carries with him, the folks he worries about and prays about before he goes to bed at night.
….here’s the thing about Barack – and this is something I’d appreciate even if he hadn’t shown the good judgment to marry me. (Laughter and applause.) But even in the toughest moments …. when it seems like all is lost, and we’re all wringing our hands, and I’ve done it to him, too – what’s going to happen, are we going to be okay – (laughter) – Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He is always an end-goal game player. He’s not looking right here. He’s looking way down the road. (Applause.) And he never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise. It doesn’t faze him. He just keeps moving forward, step by step. That’s how change happens. (Applause.)
And in those moments when we’re all sweating it, when we’re worried that that bill won’t pass, or the negotiations might fall through, Barack always reminds me that we’re playing a long game here. That’s how he reassures me. It’s not about today. It’s about our future. It’s about these kids. It’s not about us.
He reminds me that change is slow. Nothing worth having happens in an instant. He reminds me that change does not happen all at once. It never does. Never has. But he tells me that if we keep showing up, right, if we keep fighting the good fight, and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there, because we always have. When you think about it, we always have gotten to the right place in this country.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip for a reciprocal dinner at Winfield House
Guest List: The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, Rt. Honorable David Cameron, Mrs. Samantha Cameron, Viscountess Astor, Admiral James Stavridis, Lady Ashton of Upholland, Mr. Tom Hanks, Mr. Tim Collins, Mr. David Beckham, Mrs. Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mr. Colin Firth, Mrs. Marjorie Susman, Mr. Chris Dercon, Mrs. Ffion Hague, Mr. Joshua Berger, Ms. J.K. Rowling
. President Obama watches as Queen Elizabeth signs a guest book after a reciprocal dinner at Winfield House
Irish Times: IF HOME is where the heart is, then Barack Obama became a true son of Ireland yesterday. And we all walk a little taller today.
But none more so than the villagers of Moneygall, who welcomed the president of the United States to their tiny village in Co Offaly and fell head over heels for his irresistible charm.
It is a day they, and we, will never forget….…From the moment Obama stepped from his armoured Cadillac SUV, he had the air of a man who meant business. One side of the long street was lined with people, many with babies and young children, who had stood and waited for more than five hours in atrocious weather to see the president.
“They’re like emperor penguins huddling against the Antarctic winter,” remarked a man from Foreign Affairs.
….The cheers that greeted him shook the very summit of the Slieve Blooms. And then the sun came out … The hug for young Henry was wide and warm and it set the tone for what was to come. After the pleasantries, Obama loped across to the swooning, screaming, singing crowd.
He plunged in – grabbing hands, grabbing babies, kissing babies; grabbing grannies, kissing grannies, getting kissed by grannies; hugging blushing farmers, embracing swooning teenagers and high-fiving simpering young fellas.
He posed for photographs, flashing that famous smile. Crowd-surfing toddlers were bumped over adult heads and into his hands … He talked and he listened and he laughed. The delirious crowd broke into song….
…Gorgeous Michelle, smiling in a shimmeringly elegant silk coat which was absolutely soaked with rain ….A little girl held up a sign: “Did you bring Bo?”….
…Stuffy? Reserved? Awkward? Not this fella. He could have given lessons yesterday to Bill Clinton.
Back outside, the crowd waited for Barack’s return. Ten minutes later, still wearing their damp clothes, the presidential couple emerged and they worked their way right to the end of the line. This was pure gold from Mr and Mrs President.
Finally, they took their leave, but they took their time. Obama, waving goodbye again and again and, just before his motorcade took off, he stood on the running board of the SUV, turned to the people and waved again.
What he left behind was like the aftermath of a benign whirlwind.
…“He held my hand, then he touched my hat, then he pulled me forward and kissed my cheek,” said Anne Maher, like she was describing the final chapter of a Mills and Boon novel.