President Barack Obama visited Vermont on March 30 in the first presidential visit since President Clinton’s in 1995. The President spoke to a sold-out crowd at the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gymnasium. Though he wended his way throughout Chittenden County during his visit, he began his day in South Burlington.
After his arrival at the Vermont Air National Guard Base, the President hosted an exclusive 100-person luncheon at South Burlington’s Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center. President Obama gave a short speech and fielded questions from audience members. Tickets for the event cost $7,500, with proceeds going toward the President’s re-election campaign.
After the luncheon, Obama’s seventeen-car motorcade made its way to UVM’s Patrick Gymnasium. Along the route, many onlookers waved and carried signs,. Obama’s speaking event was originally scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Hotel, however, the location was moved to UVM due to the popularity of the event and high ticket sales.
The President gave a half-hour speech to a packed Patrick Gymnasium.
Governor Shumlin, Senator Leahy, and Congressman Sanders were among those in attendance. All three made introductory comments to the crowd before the President’s arrival.
Many South Burlington residents were also in attendance including Erika Lowe, who said she wanted to take advantage of “what might be her only chance to hear the President speak.”
Lowe live-tweeted throughout the event, and was following many others who were doing the same. “I have found that twitter has been one of the best ways to get news access before it’s online or broadcast,” she said. While waiting in line for the event to start, Lowe said she could view photos on twitter of the President’s arrival at the airport, for example.
Lowe feels strongly about remaining active in her community. “South Burlington, and Vermont itself, may have a small population, but we’re loud voices,” Lowe told The Other Paper. “I think we have a lot to be proud of with what we’ve accomplished in the political sphere.”
The event was covered by local and national news organizations. Though FOX network had the official contract to cover the event, CNN and CBS were among the ranks of journalists, as well as local media including reporters from the Saint Michael’s journalism program and South Burlington’s own The Other Paper. The media was permitted to view the President’s speech only, and were kept in a press hold during the other portions of the event.
President Obama’s stop was part of a campaign fundraising tour. He continued on to Maine upon his departure from Vermont.
SOURCE: Annalisa Parent, Correspondent
PHOTO: Annalisa Parent, Parent Studios