From JOHN PEPIN, The Mining Journal
Pool Reporter covering Presidential Visit
Sunny skies belied subzero temperatures which greeted President Barack Obama as he stepped off Air Force One at Sawyer International Airport near Marquette, Michigan this morning.
Brisk winds blew across the runway as Marquette Mayor John Kivela greeted the president and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. The president moved across the tarmac to greet invited guests behind a barricade, including some county government officials and staff.
Several of those in the smiling crowd greeted the president, with cameras snapping pictures.
â€œWelcome Mr. President,â€ one man said. â€œThanks for coming to the U.P.â€
The president was a winter coat, no gloves, no hat and his warm trademark smile.
A group of local press reporters stood on a flat bed stage, filming the arrival.
After the greetings were finished, the president got into his black vehicle with the presidential seal and the motorcade headed north about 17 miles to downtown Marquette.
Along M-553, police had blocked and manned every side road and well-wishers held signs, American flags and waved, smiled and yelled. There were snowmobilers at trailheads, scores of schoolchildren out in the cold.
In downtown Marquette, the Presidentâ€™s motorcade stopped along Washington Street at Donckerâ€™s candy shop and eatery where he was able to spend a few minutes signing copies of one of his books and taking a few minutes to greet locals, including the business owners and counter staff.
There he was presented with a gift of some chocolates.
â€œWay to bribe me,â€ he said.
There were also some in the crowd from the Chicago area.
â€œYouâ€™re my homeysâ€™,â€ the president said.
Back out on West Washington Street, there were many people lined up and even in store front windows, trying to get a look at the president. One woman with foil still in her hair, came out into the street from a salon.
Security kept much of the crowd at a safe distance across the street. The president emerged from the candy shop and cheers erupted.
The motorcade then headed to Northern Michigan University along Lakeshore Boulevard. There, he was able to participate in a brief demonstration of the distance learning and WiMax technology used by Northern Michigan University students and others.
Two NMU students and a professor were on hand to demonstrate. The 4G technology allows communications to almost 40 miles from the NMU campus.
The president spoke with students from Negaunee and Powell Township via the television screens set up on campus. The Negaunee students were high school students, while those from Powell Township were middle school students. The president also stood before a map of the U.P., which was marked with arrows for the outlying communities.
The president said he felt like he was in Star Trek, “being beamed around.”
Minutes later, the president was to speak to an excited crowd of invited guests, including many NMU students, at the Vandament Center on campus. In the front row, Mayor Kivela and Senator Levin were introduced.