Update: Presidential Visit Preps Underway

By: LeAnne Morman, Jodi Baker Email
By: LeAnne Morman, Jodi Baker Email

Some 2,000 excited ticket-holders are counting down the hours until President Obama speaks in Council Bluffs Monday morning. Several dozen began lining up well before the park opened to the public.

The set up began Sunday afternoon. Robert Gore sat on a park bench and watched the flurry of activity. He lives across the street. "Just watching, looking around and having fun. That's all I want to do."

While the presidential visit isn't Gore's cup of tea, thousands will be appearing Monday morning, including Tom Miller, who has lived in Council Bluffs his entire life. "I haven't ever seen a president."

Tickets are limited. Most of the tickets have been white, but a few, like the tickets Page Rasmussen and her aunt Michelle Clemons received, are red. "The white ones are just the regular, I guess, VIP means that we get a seat closer to President Obama," said Rasmussen.

Clemons and Rasmussen were picked at random and told that's what the color meant by campaign staff. "We're like, yeah! First time you get to see the president and it's awesome if you get up close," said Clemons. VIP or not, Clemons says it's going to be special. "You don't get that chance in your lifetime very often."

Several streets near Bayliss Park have been blocked off for the president's visit. A couple dozen people began lining up as early as 6:30 a.m. Monday, although the park does not open to ticket holders until 9:15 a.m.

Monday's stop is part of a three-day tour in Iowa. President Obama will also stop in Boone Monday, then continue on to Oskaloosa, Marshalltown and Waterloo on Tuesday. The first lady will join him on Wednesday for stops in Dubuque and Davenport.

This is the President's fifth visit to Iowa, and it will be the longest period of time he's spent consecutively in any single state. Pottawattamie County Democratic Chair Linda Nelson said, "We were the ones that catapulted him into winning the Iowa caucuses back in 2008 and we are proud to stand with him again this election and help re-elect him."

Pottawattamie County GOP Chair, Jeff Jorgensen, said there's no question of the significance of this state and this county. "We've got to be the counter balance to Polk county, this new congressional district, and we're looking to get out the vote. That's what we need to do to counter the advantage that Democrats have in Polk county."

Jorgensen pointed out President Obama is trailing Mitt Romney in fundraising. "It's a good sign. I know the polls, Governor Romney is a bit behind, but he's going to be making that up fairly quickly after the convention, no doubt in my mind."

But Nelson said the President's grass roots approach, for which he has a great deal of local support, is just as important.

"We know that fundraising is an integral part of these campaigns, but we also know there's nothing more important than the human touch," Nelson said. "That when we get out there and go door to door, meet the folks that support Democrats up and down the ticket and get them committed to voting this election, we know that makes a difference."

The President is expected to speak at 11:25 a.m., and his remarks will be streamed live at wowt.com, as Governor Romney's remarks were streamed when he visited the area.

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