Obama: “Everybody knows I love Austin”

President Barack Obama smiles as he speaks on the economy at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, Thursday, July 10, 2014. President Obama ridiculed congressional Republicans on Thursday, accusing them of doing little more than opposing his agenda in a campaign-style rally with less than four months remaining before midterm elections. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Kye R. Lee, Pool)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Barack Obama made a quick stop at the Magnolia Cafe and Franklin Barbecue during his trip to Austin Thursday.

He started his morning with a fundraiser at Aimee Boone Cunningham’s west Austin home. The president made the trip by motorcade which prompted officials to close portions of Highway 360, Mopac and Interstate 35 during rush hour.

Austinites turned to Twitter to display their displeasure with the traffic jams using the hashtag #ThanksObama. The term was quickly trending across Central Texas.

Capital Metro detoured bus routes in the downtown area along Red River, Eighth, 11th and 12th streets, and nine bus routes were affected through the afternoon.


Quick stop at Magnolia Cafe

Michaella Rodriguez served the president at the Magnolia Cafe.
Michaella Rodriguez served the president at the Magnolia Cafe.

After the fundraiser, Obama met with Kinsey Button, a University of Texas student, who would later introduce the president before he addressed the crowd at the Paramount Theatre, at the Magnolia Cafe. The president ordered a hot tea to sip while he and Button discussed a letter she sent the president about the difficulties her parents faced while being unemployed.

Customers whipped out their phones and began snapping photos of the president and the flock of reporters that crammed into the restaurant.

The president then headed on to the Paramount Theatre.

Passionate speech at the Paramount Theatre

The president’s speech meet cheers and at times, hecklers. Obama tackled several hotly contested political topics including the economy, raising minimum wage, immigration and executive actions.

Obama told the crowd he is in Austin because of the letter Button wrote. He detailed how her family fell on hard times but now, her dad has a new job and it’s in the field he trained for.

The country, he said, doesn’t grow from the top down. He argued for an increase in minimum wage.

“This country does better when the middle-class does better,” he explained.

Obama told the crowd he was puzzled about Republicans’ threat to sue him for taking executive actions saying he has taken less than George W. Bush.

“You’re going to sue me for doing my job?” he asked in jest.

We checked, and so far Obama has issued 182 executive orders and Bush issued 291 during his 8 years in office.

After his speech, the president met briefly with two people who heckled him before making pit stop for barbecue.

President Obama greets Austinites during a surprise visit to Franklin Barbecue.
President Obama greets Austinites during a surprise visit to Franklin Barbecue.

Franklin Barbecue

A casual observer could have told you something was going on when a swarm of police and federal agents descended on Franklin Barbecue in East Austin. The presidential motorcade rolled in shortly thereafter and Obama was greeted with cheers and applause.

The president was able to skip the line and go straight to the counter to put in an order.

‎”Because these folks were in front of me, I’m buying for them,” he said to the folks near the cash register.

The president ordered about eight pounds of brisket, ribs, sausage and turkey. He pulled out a wad of cash before grabbing a credit card to pay for the meal. He thanked the cashier with a fist bump.

Austinites eating inside the newly-renovated eatery greeted the president who shook hands and took a few pictures with the diners.

The presidential detail collected their carry-out order and headed back to the motorcade.

Air Force One leaves ABIA

Obama shook some hands and greeted a crowd waiting on the tarmac at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport before climbing up the stairs to Air Force One.

All in all, the president was in Austin for about 18 hours.

Obama’s schedule on Thursday

After a late night at a Democratic fundraiser at director Robert Rodriguez’s home on Wednesday, President Obama had a full day in Austin on Thursday.

9:50 a.m.         President attends a DNC roundtable

  • In the morning, the president will attend a DNC roundtable at a private home, which is closed to the press.

12:15 p.m.      President delivers remarks

  • In the afternoon, the president will deliver remarks on the economy at The Paramount Theatre. This event is pooled for television cameras and open to still photographers and correspondents.

2:25  p.m.        President departs Austin

  • In the afternoon, the president will depart Austin en route Washington, D.C. The departure from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is open to precredentialed media, and the arrival on the South Lawn is open to the press.

Eastern Daylight Time

  • 6:15 p.m.    President arrives Joint Base Andrews
  • 6:30 p.m.    President arrives at the White House

In-Depth: Obama’s activity since landing

Information from White House reporter J. David McSwane

11:59 POTUS arrived at the Sheraton in downtown Austin.

About 10:20 POTUS and motorcade arrived at Robert Rodriguez’ castle home in Pemberton Heights, an affluent neighborhood in the hills overlooking downtown. Dozens of children and their parents lined the neatly trimmed sidewalks, waving, taking photos and videos with their smart phones. Tiny flags, maybe left over from Independence Day, line some lawns and at least one “OBAMA 2012” sign is posted across the street from Rodriguez’ home.

Rodriguez home: Frosted windows and loose sod – they’ve been restoring this historic site for 5 years. Inside about 80 to 100 people gathered under a tent, chandeliers above them, in 85-degree weather. People fanned themselves as they waited. Behind them a large pool, lighted blue.

11 p.m. Rodriguez came out, dressed in black, no tie, black blazer and black cowboy hat. “Welcome to the castle. In my line of work, I have to be inspired daily.” Tells crowd this is a good place to think outside the box on ways to improve the country. Introduced POTUS. Didn’t notice any celebrities, aside from Rodriguez. No politicians of note.

LOCAL:  After cheers, POTUS began: “First of all it’s just good to be back in Austin. I love Austin, Texas. I do.”

Recalls first fundraiser he attending Austin, when he was a senator.

President Obama throws Hook'Em from the stage at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. (KXAN Photo)
President Obama throws Hook’Em from the stage at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. (KXAN Photo)

“It was so hot that when I was done I had to get rid of the shirt. It just never recovered.”

Says the last time he was able to walk around without pomp was here in 2008.

“The last time I took a  walk unencumbered was in Austin, Texas. True story. This was before a debate in the primary. I walked along the river. I got probably a mile, a mile in half, and then people started to spot me.”

“I have wistful memories of that walk,” he added.

“I remember going to a bar, club, honky-tonk around here and singing on stage. I wasn’t very good, but people were enthusiastic anyway. I’ve had really good barbecue here. But most importantly, I love the people of Austin – just good people.”

Responding to Rodriguez’ call for creativity earlier, and after noting the heat, POTUS said: “I’m going to use my creativity by taking off my jacket.” Laughter. “And perhaps if the press weren’t here I’d be creative and jump in the pool.”

“There’s a fine line between creativity and bad judgment. You want your president to be on the right side of that line.”

He’s rolling up his sleeves, white shirt, dark tie.

LOCAL: “I was in Dallas with your governor,” POTUS said, to laughter from the crowd.

He’s been in Denver and Dallas before Austin today.

“My message has been consistent, I think, throughout this day and throughout this trip and throughout my presidency.”

Can’t quote verbatim: What makes America special is the idea that no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love or what your last name is, no matter what you worship you could make it here if you try.

Touted his administration’s response to the Great Recession, says administration saved the auto industry and stabilized the financial system. Says energy market is booming, solar energy holds promise

“We’ve made remarkable progress. But the reason we’re here is we know we’ve got so much more to do. And there’s anxiety around the country.”

Appeals to the anxiety of the middle class, pay equality.

On immigration, POTUS said “We know that if we passed immigration reform it’s not just good for the families. It’s good for the economy.” – says if 11 million immigrants were made citizens, economy would grow by more than a trillion dollars.

POTUS turns to familiar criticism of the GOP. “We know what to do. The problem is that Washington Is not working the way that its’ supposed to.”

And that’s the reason people feel anxious, he says.

LOCAL: “What I’ve said  to my team is get me out of Washington.” – he said this syllabic emphasis on get. Me. Out. Of. Washington.  “Let me talk to people who are doing the right thing and struggling, so that they know they’re being heard by at least someone in Washington. Let’s remind the country of what we should be working on, so that we might prod congress into doing the right thing.”

POTUS says he wasn’t raised partisan, mentions how both parties have accomplished important things.

“But right now, at this moment, the reason Washington doesn’t work is very simple. You’ve got one party whose main goal, it seems, is just to say no.”

Says the GOP doesn’t appear to be serious about doing anything. Summary: It’s not that they have a different theory about how to help. It’s that they don’t have a theory.

Yet across the board, POTUS said, the American people agree with Dems on immigration reform, minimum wage, equal pay ..

Emphasized that views of the people aren’t being carried about an electorate that doesn’t participate in mid-terms elections.

LOCAL: “I told Rick Perry today – I said I’m happy to listen to your ideas.”

But POTUS criticized Texas’ Republican delegation that hasn’t responded to his request for $3.7 billion to address the current border surge.

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