Friday, April 23, 2010

Obamas coming to Appalachia for recreation, memorial service for Upper Big Branch miners

President Obama, who has had political difficulties in most of Appalachia, particularly its rural precincts, will spend more than two full days in the region this weekend. He is expected to land in Asheville, N.C., at 1:20 p.m. EDT for a private getaway with his wife Michelle at the Grove Park Inn, right, which has hosted 10 presidents. On Sunday he and Vice President Biden will speak in Beckley, W.Va., at a memorial service for the 29 coal miners killed April 5 at the nearby Upper Big Branch Mine.

In Asheville, "The couple have planned a totally private weekend, with no public events scheduled," and their two daughters are not coming, reports Barbara Barrett of McClatchy Newspapers."Still, no presidential action is totally apolitical. This is Obama's fourth visit to North Carolina as president, and he visited nearly 20 times as a candidate. He took lefty Asheville heartily in the 2008 election but fared worse in the surrounding rural, conservative counties." Obama's margin in the Tar Heel State was thin; in West Virginia, he got drubbed.

The Asheville Citizen-Times website is blanketed with Obama coverage. A story by Joel Burgess says local Republicans are planning a protest but Tea Party activists are not. In Beckley, Mannix Porterfield of the Register-Herald reports that those wanting to attend the 3 p.m. service must pick up a free ticket at the Tamarack arts-and-crafts center on Interstate 77 just north of Beckley, or "the information desk of the West Virginia Culture Center at the Capitol complex" in Charleston, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. (Read more)

UPDATE, April 24: The Christian Science Monitor asks, "Is progressive Asheville Obama’s vision for America?" over a story by Patrik Jonsson. "Hip, environmentally aware, self-reliant and undeniably quaint, Asheville, N.C is a progressive’s vision of what America could be. But mountain liberalism comes at a price." Accompanying the story is this official White House photo by Pete Souza, showing the Obamas meeting another hiking couple on a trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway outside Asheville. “He is the first sitting president to ever visit the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis told Karen Chavez of the Citizen-Times. (Read more)

1 comment:

B. Lewis said...

I attended the miners' memorial service today for the 29 miners who lost their lives at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Both President Obama and VP Biden got a very warm welcome from those attending. I was told by a family member of one of the miners that the President and VP had lunch with the families prior to the memorial service.

It was a wonderful memorial to our 29 miners.

Protestors from the Westboro Church in Kansas were on a hill where we had to make a left turn to get to parking. They were holding signs and yelling.