President Barack Obama was in New York City Thursday doing things he can only do here: acknowledge a milestone at the World Trade Center and pick up more and larger checks than he gets anywhere else. Because the former part of his trip was official, taxpayers footed the bill for the commander-in-chief's transportation and security, but they did not pay enough individually to obtain the access to Mr. Obama that people in the latter part of his trip received.
The president arrived in New York around 5:30 P.M. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he had delivered what the administration described as a major policy speech about the economy. Once on the ground in Manhattan, President Obama and the first lady went to One World Trade Center, where they were joined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey for a ceremony to sign the final steel beam to be placed atop the building, marking a major milestone toward the revival of the World Trade Center site.
"There's no speech," President Obama said to a group of about 50 ironworkers, and at least as many journalists, gathered for the occasion. He called the building the workers have built so far "an incredible structure," as he thanked them. "This is what the American spirit is all about," the president said.
That was the extent of the comments the public was to hear during President Obama's New York visit. Everything else he had to say here was shared with people who had made five-figure donations to his campaign.
They were gathered at two different locations in Manhattan. The first was in the West Village, at the home of Sarah Jessica Parker, who hosted a $40,000 per plate dinner for 50 guests and the Obamas. Even though, Parker shares her home with actor Matthew Broderick, he was not there. He would not skip a performance in the Broadway musical Nice Work If You Can Get It in order to host the most powerful person in the world.
Other celebrities were in attendance, including Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine, fashion impresario and Michael Kors and actress Meryl Streep. Once lucky guest and a friend were able to attend after donating only $3.00 to the Obama campaign, and having their name selected from among thousands of small-sum donors in a raffle.
As for the president and Mrs. Obama's last stop of the evening, it was again populated by big-sum donors. $10,000 was the donation needed to attend a short concert at the Plaza Hotel in Midtown, performed in the president's honor by Mariah Carey, at which another singer, Alicia Keys, gave a short speech.
The event was hosted by Newark mayor Cory Booker, in a clear signal that he was once again in the good graces of the Obamas, weeks after he had said on NBC's Meet the Press that attack ads from the president's and Mitt Romney's campaigns were "nauseating." Booker later backtracked on his comment, but not before the Romney campaign seized on it as a criticism of the president by one of his greatest supporters.
Speaking of the GOP designated nominee, Romney on Thursday was also in Ohio, where the president began his trip. At a rally in Cincinnati intentionally timed to rival the president's speech, Mitt Romney criticized the president's economic policies, saying, "If you want to see the results of his economic policies, look at Ohio and look around the country. What he says and what he's done are not always the same exact thing." Romney also said about President Obama's work on the economy, "Talk is cheap, but actions speak very loud."
However, the fact that tickets to the president's fundraisers were not cheap meant that Mr. Obama had picked up $4.5 million for his campaign and other Democratic Party causes in one evening. It's a reminder that the race for the White House this year will be intensely fought with large war chests on either side.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun