President Barack Obama visited Bowling Green in Ohio today. This caused a BGSU graduate to lament on Twitter that she never got to see a President of the United States of America while she was a Falcon. I replied that I saw Ronald Reagan there in 1988 on the campaign trail for George HW Bush. Which got me thinking. I’ve seen four Presidents in person.
I saw Ronald Reagan at the Wood County Courthouse in the fall of 1988. I was a reporter with the Bowling Green Radio News and has a press pass. Great front and center view. I remember he was still very popular except with a few malcontents perennially protesting whatever. I was not nearly as conservative politically then as I am now but I still appreciated being that close to someone who was clearly an important historical figure.
I saw George HW Bush the same year, I think, at the Ohio Association of Broadcasters convention in Columbus. This was a small crowd and again I had a great view. I recall that I was included in a crowd reaction shot on the local news that night. I may have had a bad mustache. He was not nearly as charismatic as Reagan, but who is?
I saw George W Bush at a campaign stop at Lake Farmpark in Kirtland on 2004. It was a hot day. My son John was a toddler. Someday I hope he tells his grand-kids that he saw a President. You could just see a small little figure from where we stood. The crowd was up for a rally.
The only POTUS I’ve ever spoken to was Jimmy Carter. He is not my favorite, but my mother was a big fan. He was on a book tour and stopped at a Barnes & Noble in Mayfield Ohio. Since my mother was starting to get infirm, I offered to stand in line in order to get her book signed. I stood in a line for quite some time with people who were pleasant enough, but not being a big Jimmy Carter fan I had to stick to small talk.
Eventually I got to the front of the line and shook his hand because when you are face-to-face with a former President that is what you do. We exchanged courtesies and I was on my way. I was a little sad for my mom because she would have liked to meet him. When I met back up with her, she was grinning. She happened to sit in the coffee shop area adjacent to where the Secret Service had escorted him in. He stopped and said hello so she got her signed book and also met her favorite former President.
Even though I am just an average guy, I feel lucky to have been a witness to history.
One thought on “Presidential proximity”
Great Blog Matt. I got to meet one President in person too and have a couple of similar stories myself I would like to share with you. I was at BGSU my freshman year 1984 when Reagan came there and, I was fortunate to get a ticket. I wasn’t seated that close, but did get to see him in person. I can still picture my spot on the Gym floor about half way back in the dead center, funny. The best part was when his helicopter flew over the gym; that was neat to hear and see too when he left. I remember it gave you chills when he first arrived.
Then when I worked for the San Jose Sharks in 1996, I got to meet and escort George HW Bush through the offices of the Arena along with his Secret Service of course right up to the stage. I got to shake his hand too and at that time I was trying to get into the FBI so I let him know that, but he didn’t have much time to talk. It’s too bad because that would have been the ultimate connection I needed to get in LOL.
I was leaving a Browns game four years ago with my oldest son Nick when President Obama was speaking at a Campaign Rally Downtown and Bruce Springsteen was there. I had to check out the Boss of course and got to see Obama too for a minute as we both were heading home. Nick was 8 years old, so he does at least remember it.
Just recently, Mitt Romney was speaking at Lake Erie College. I got a ticket, printed it and couldn’t make the event. Too bad because if he becomes President, that would have been my fourth one. Although, I vaguely also remember something about Jimmy Carter when I was young, so I will have to ask my mom about that one.
You are right, not everyone has a chance to see a President in person, but when you do, it is a memory that lasts a lifetime and feels “special”. Thanks for bringing back some good memories with your Blog Matt and it’s cool to hear you have some similar stories to share.
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