President Obama visits SA

SA first stop on Texas campaign trip

SAN ANTONIO - President Barack Obama paid a visit to San Antonio on Tuesday for a couple of campaign fundraisers.

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Air Force One touched down at San Antonio International Airport at about 11:15 a.m. Obama greeted a small group of supporters on the tarmac, posed for photos and signed autographs.

Mayor Julián Castro, state Rep. Joaquin Castro and U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez accompanied the president in his car, which left the airport about 15 minutes after it arrived.

Traffic was backed up on U.S. 281 South, behind the president's motorcade as it headed toward downtown. Road repairs and an auto accident snared traffic for hours this morning, but cleared before the president landed.

People gathered along the highway to wave at the passing motorcade, which arrived at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center just before noon, where about 150 people, mostly protesters, lined the street.

Obama addressed a luncheon for about 1,000 contributors at the Convention Center. The event was expected to raise more than $3 million, a record for a Democratic candidate in San Antonio, according to estimates within the party.

Obama spoke for 35 minutes at the luncheon.

Stepping up to the podium, President Obama said, “Hello, San Antone! Hello, Texas!” to a cheering crowd of donors that packed a ballroom at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

After introducing local hosts, including U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, Mayor Julian Castro and actress Eva Longoria, the president stuck to the usual themes of rebuilding the middle class and fighting Republican policies, and he was interrupted by applause a dozen times or more, like when he described what is at the heart of the nation’s economy.

“When the middle class folks are doing well and those striving to get into the middle class are doing well, everybody does well,” Obama said.

Joe Linson, who heard the President speak, said he couldn’t agree more.

“I’m not against the rich and neither is he,” Linson said. “This trickle down is just a theory, as he said, just a theory.”

Obama’s overall theme was opportunity awaits all Americans.

“That’s why I ran for President in 2008, and why I’m running for a second term,” he said.

Although not expected to win Texas, Obama said, “You’re not considered a battleground state, but that’s about to change.”

Choco Meza, outgoing chair of the Bexar County Democratic Party said, the state’s growing Hispanic population could be the key.

“It’s a perfect marriage between his vision and where this state should be,” Meza said.

In terms of job creation, the President said companies should be rewarded with tax breaks if they invest in American, not foreign workers.

“Goods stamped with three proud words, made in America, that’s my vision for America,” he said.

As expected, Obama touted his successes, starting with the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re not going backwards. We are going forwards and 30 million people are going to get insurance because of it,” the President said.

The audience erupted in applause, when he said, “I promised to go after Bin Laden. We got him!”

The President also said as promised, he had ended the Iraq War and was withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

He said half the money saved from those two wars could go toward easing the deficit and “to do some nation building at home.”

Among a large delegation bused in from the Rio Grande Valley, Maricela Cortez said after the speech, “He is so focused, so driven. We’re waiting for him to get re-elected.”

Ticket prices that ranged from $250 to $5,000 will go toward the President’s re-election campaign.

After the luncheon, the president and entourage then went to the northwest suburbs for a private gathering at the home of trial lawyer Mikal Watts. The mayor, Gonzalez and several dozen others were on hand. The group arrived about 2 p.m. after passing hundreds of onlookers along Interstate 10, some waving flags and taking photos, others giving the president a thumbs down.

In the Watts home, where 75 supporters gathered in the home's basketball gym, Obama thanked the donors and acknowledged guests including Ron Kirk and Henry Cisneros. Gonzalez, Longoria and Castro also were there.

Obama's motorcade then left for the airport, where he boarded Air Force One for Austin, where he was scheduled to appear at another fundraiser.

KSAT Reporter Jessie Degollado contributed to this report.


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