Local News

Monday, Oct 08 2012 11:06 AM

Some protest but most at Meadows welcome Obama

  1. 1 of 9

    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    President Obama landed at the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday for the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument.

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  2. 2 of 9

    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    President Obama landed at the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday for the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 9

    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    President Obama greets about 72 well-wishers after landing at the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday for the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument. The little girl with the red flower in her hair is 9-year-old Samantha Pharo from Clovis.

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  4. 4 of 9

    By Henry A. Barrios/ The Californian

    President Obama greets about 72 well-wishers after landing at the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday for the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument. The President shakes hands with Julie Pharo from Clovis.

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  5. 5 of 9

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    President Obama exits Air Force One after landing at the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday for the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument.

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  6. 6 of 9

    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    President Obama, aboard Air Force One, takes off from the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday after attending the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument.

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  7. 7 of 9

    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    President Obama turns and waves as he boards Air Force One to depart from Meadows Field after his visit to Kern County on Monday.

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  8. 8 of 9

    By Christopher McCullah / The Californian

    A little more than 30 protesters lined up on Airport Drive and Norris Road waiting for President Obama to pass by on his way to Keene.

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  9. 9 of 9

    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    President Obama greets about 72 well-wishers after landing at the International Terminal at Meadows Field Airport in Kern County on Monday for the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument.

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BY REBECCA KHEEL, JASON KOTOWSKI and JAMES BURGER Californian staff writers rkheel@bakersfield.com; jkotowski@bakersfield.com; jburger@bakersfield.com

Alex Posa and his mom, Carol Seguin, drove from Newport Beach to see President Barack Obama touch down at Meadows Field Airport on Monday morning.

It meant Posa missed a day of seventh grade and will have to write a report on what he saw and heard when he gets back. But when you’re invited to stand on the tarmac as Air Force One lands, Seguin said, you don’t pass up that opportunity.

“This is a once in a lifetime chance,” said Seguin, who was one of 72 guests with some connection to the White House invited to watch the president on the tarmac.

Along with the guests at the airport, Obama supporters and protesters alike turned out to stand outside the airport and see Air Force One fly overhead.

At about 10 a.m., about 20 minutes behind schedule, the modified 747 landed at Meadows’ International Terminal. Obama greeted the invited crowd — shaking hands and trading small talk — for a few minutes before hopping into his American flag-clad SUV. He was gone before 10:25 a.m., on his way to Keene.

At the airport

Posa and Seguin were invited because they know a Secret Service agent, they said. Before being let onto the tarmac, they were allowed behind the scenes and looked at the motorcade and other preparations.

After meeting the president, Posa was in shock.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Posa said. He said he couldn’t recall what he said to the president, or how he responded, because he was simply “in the moment.”

The president stopped to ask Julie Pharo, who was with three grinning blonde children, “Is this all your crew here?”

One family — a dad, mom and three daughters ages 3, 4 and 5 — shared a tender moment with the president.

“Careful. They grow up in no time,” mother Melissa Youngblood said Obama told them.

All three children were dressed in American flag dresses. Obama commented on the outfits, Youngblood said, saying the girls were very pretty.

Air Force One came into view from the north, kicking up a cloud of dust as it landed.  The motorcade left the airport by a south gate, turned north on Airport Drive and traveled toward the oil rigs lining the distant horizon.

The chain of vehicles passed knots of people at intersections, their phones and cameras panning the motorcade. Some people cheered. A man and woman standing near a mini-market and gas station on the north side of Merle Haggard Drive near Highway 65 pointed at the navy blue Romney/Ryan campaign shirts they wore.

But many viewers, some wearing uniforms from businesses along the way, just seemed there to see the president go by.

Manuel Rodriguez, 37, of Bakersfield, showed up at about 9 a.m. He said he was excited, likes Obama and hoped he could see the plane and get a good photograph to show his wife and children.

Kelly Fabrie showed up with her son, Easton, because he loves airplanes.

“It’s the president. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, it’s an honor” that the president is coming to our area, Fabrie said.

Joe Rueda, 54, of Bakersfield, said he recently watched a documentary on the History Channel about Air Force One. He wanted to be able to say he saw what he described as “a symbol of America.”

“In my lifetime I get to say I saw it,” he said.

Bakersfield resident Jill Robinson said she wanted to show her support. She couldn’t believe he was going to be in Oildale.

“I really think he’s done a lot for our country,” she said.

But not everyone agreed.

“I just can’t wait to flip him off. He’s got some good views but I don’t see him keeping his word,” said Andrew Johnson, 20, of Oildale, as he stopped just north of the railroad tracks on Airport Drive.

Local Tea Party member Tammy Estill said she’s upset about the job Obama has done and showed up to protest. She’s concerned about what’s happening to this country and the state it will be in for her children and grandchildren.

Asked what she’d say to the president, Estill said she’d tell him he’s “doing a terrible job, go to Hawaii and retire.”

A group of protesters held signs on the west side of Airport Drive. Written on the signs were messages such as “Cut the waste. Obama is hazardous waste”, and “Columbus discovered America. Obama’s destroying America.”

At 12:54 p.m., the motorcade was back at the airport. Four minutes later, Obama left the car, climbed alone up the steps and went inside.
Wheels started rolling at 1:04 p.m. and Air Force One lifted into the air out of a cloud of dust on its way to San Francisco.

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