Friday, April 2, 2010

POTUS in Portland

President Obama was literally in my neighborhood yesterday, giving a speech in defense of the new health care reform law. Here's my story on it in The Christian Science Monitor.

Monitor national desk stories have to run 600 words or less, so there was plenty that couldn't be wedged in, but there's full video coverage of the speech itself here.

Many of Maine's leading Democratic Party figures were in attendance, including Gov. John Baldacci, Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, and power broker Severin Beliveau, whose son, Emmett, is Obama's Director of Advance, responsible for staging events like this one worldwide. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins were not in attendance; Snowe's press secretary didn't respond to an inquiry on the topic; Collins' reported that his boss was headed for Qatar with a bipartisan congressional delegation.

Also, there were reports that as many as 1000 ticket holders were turned back at the door, many of whom had waited for hours in the rain Wednesday to obtain their tickets. There apparently was no explanation given. The Expo had quite a bit of standing room left in the back of the room after doors closed. [UPDATE: WMTW reports this was due to the President's early arrival -- presumably a security perimeter issue -- and that the woman who was first in line (at 1 am Wends.) was among those turned away.]

For fellow Portlanders: the Portland Public Market House's own Bill Milliken got an extended plug from the leader of the free world. "In exchange for this publicity," the President said, "I hope that I'm going to get some samples of the beer." Get on that, Bill.

1 comment:

  1. While the masses surged on the Expo, I kept an eye on the local tv coverage at home.

    I saw NECN, WMTW and I think WCSH cover Obama's landing at PWM - didn't check WGME. All but WMTW switched back to regular programming (infomercials, soap operas). WMTW had two off-site people and Steve Minich anchoring the studio. Health Care Law background was offered plus a break for the National Anthem, etc. inside the expo. Outside, Jim Keithly spoke with a number of attendees and protesters. Throughout the speech I switched among three local stations and NECN.

    Overall, WMTW was a clear winner in covering the event with a snappy, engaging reportage that beat NECN, and the local studios who were clearly not as prepared and a bit lost in a live, as-it-happens arena. A WMTW bonus was a commercial-free afternoon which I believe pays far better in good will and professionalism - it's the right thing to do. Bravo!

    And hats off to Bill Milliken! Woohoo!