The president's glistening black tour bus turned the corner off Teall Avenue on to the Henninger High School campus to chants from protesters and cheers from supporters. A heavy rain shower had just wrapped up. Michael Benny and I were co-anchoring live coverage on CBS 5 at that moment. Finally, after the week long build up President Barack Obama had arrived in Syracuse.
That was one of two thrilling moments during the steamy afternoon that had turned to evening. The other occurred some twenty minutes later after the arrival of the bus. Megan Coleman and I were co-anchoring live coverage on NBC 3 as Corcoran High Senior Emilio Ortiz introduced the President like a seasoned public speaking professional.
President Obama skipped up the handful of steps. He slipped through the blue drapery. The crowd erupted into wild cheers. iPhones raised into the air with seemingly everyone trying to capture the moment for instant distribution to their social networks. The President sounded like a rock star ready to open a set of hits by saying, "Hellooo, Syracuse!"
When you are just 100 feet or less from this president it is apparent the energy and charisma he brings to these public appearances. He shows vigor, fitness and happiness. He smiles broadly looking relieved to be on the road and among friends as opposed to tied to the White House and the political challenges of Washington.
His speech writers have the routine down well. They spend the first few minutes localizing the President's remarks. He mentioned the five high schools in Syracuse. He effortlessly read off the teleprompter the names of key dignitaries who were in the room such as Mayor Stephanie Miner, Congressman Dan Maffei and Syracuse Schools superintendent Sharon Contreras.
There are several sides to President Obama when it comes to public speaking. There is the Oval Office address president. The East Room news conference president. And the on the road political tour president. That's who we saw today.
That's the persona where he drops the 'g's' off the ends of words like moving (or movin'). The Harvard educated lawyer becomes one of us. He relates to college debt, telling the crowd how he and his Ivy League educated wife did not pay off law school debts until their 40's.
This President Obama is the pied piper. This is the one that inspires people in his presence to aspire to greater works. He had children looking optimistically to the future. He touched an 89 year old African-American woman who has lived a life of Civil Rights revolution.
The politics of his plan to change the funding and affordability of college may hinder his attempt to get his plan off the ground. The concept of connecting Federal financial aid to a rating systems for universities and colleges would give the government more of a say in steering money to institutions that meet a set of standards. Is it up to the the Federal government to control all of the higher education entities in that way? That debate will now begin.
In the meantime, hundreds of supporters who stayed up over night, stood out in the rain and perspired in the gym were left with a moment in Central New York history that will be remembered for generations to come.
Any questions or comment please forward them to mattsmemo@CNYcentral.com. I may even use some of your thoughts on NBC 3 News at 5:00, the 10:00 News on CW6 or on CNYcentral.com.
The opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and are not reflective of the views or opinions of Barrington Broadcasting, WSTM-NBC3, its management or employees.