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Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Town Hall with President Obama

I promise that I'll get back to food blogging soon, but a few people requested pictures from the Town Hall meeting in Strasbourg, so I'm sharing a few here. Yes, we did get to go to the Town Hall meeting, but we didn't get to meet or even get near the president. He's a busy man, and had to leave directly for Baden-Baden after the meeting.

Strasbourg didn't have an easy time of it with the NATO Summit being held here, and it showed with its police presence. I was told that 10,000 police officers were brought to town to help with security, and with the amount of police in cars, vans, motorcycles, bikes, on foot, and even on horses (!) here, I believe it. This barricade was set up just a block from our apartment:

Some citizens felt a little uneasy with the security measures, and we found this spray-painted on the ground near our apartment. (I have to say, though, that even if the police presence made me feel uneasy, I'm sure glad that they were here once the protesters started fires on the outskirts of town.)

Back to the Town Hall...here's a picture of our ticket!

And a picture from our seats. We were in a small basketball arena, and we were about a basketball court away from President Obama. We had the chance to sit behind him, but although those seats were closer, our seats were better to watch the speech from...

I caught a short video of President and Mrs. Obama entering the arena:

And pictures of the man himself:

From what two of our French friends told us afterward, they liked his speech. It was geared toward Europeans, so was a little different from what I had heard on the campaign trail. I found the links to the speech, both written and in video form, if you'd like to read/see what he had to say...


Chef E April 5, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

I got excited, thanks for sharing this. Not sure how you feel about him, but I am hoping he will make some good changes, even if they are tiny steps...

Mindy April 5, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

ChefE, I'll not beat around the bush...I've been in love with Obama since he ran for the Illinois Senate! Unfortunately, since I live in a very Republican state, Kentucky, there's a pretty slim chance that I'll ever see him speak again. I feel lucky that I was in the right place at the right time for this experience. I feel like he is very accessible and very honest in his approach. I haven't been in the US since before the campaign was in full swing, so it will be interesting to come home and see what the media has to say about him. Here in Europe, they love him more than I do!

Sue April 5, 2009 at 1:24 PM  

That is sooooooo thrilling! I was also going to ask what you thought of his speech. Was he as charismatic as folks say?

Mindy April 5, 2009 at 1:27 PM  

Sue, I liked his "set" speech, but I thought that he was at his most charismatic when he was speaking off the cuff in response to questions. He laughed and joked, but was also very serious when appropriate. He made it clear that both the US and Europe had work to do to repair our relationship (not just the US, which I think is what a lot of Europe thinks). I liked that his ideas were big and difficult, like getting rid of nuclear weapons in the world, and that he met this idea head-on. I would definitely try to go see him speak again...I'm not really a political person when it comes down to it, but he makes me want to make a stand somehow. He did make a call for public service, no matter how small, which I found stirring...

Sue April 5, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

Wow, that really is great. It's funny how you had to be in Strasbourg to see our president in person.

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