The first lady’s visit


Jessica Lewis

Tuesday afternoon, approximately 300 people filled The Crystal Ballroom at The Hotel Utica. I sat in the quarantined press area in the back of the room with a crowd of television and newspaper reporters and watched as waiters deftly maneuvered through the crowd, serving hors d’oeuvres to the anxious ticket holders. The event, a campaign fundraiser for congressional candidate Ray Meier, normally wouldn’t warrant such extensive press coverage, but this fund raiser was special. That’s because endorsing Meier at this event was first lady, Laura Bush.

It was a unique experience for me from the very beginning. Of course we first had to fax over all of my information for a background check. You’ll be happy to know nothing turned up. When I arrived at the hotel, I was told everyone needed to stay in the entrance area while security did a sweep. We were then directed to check in and taken to the press area. Once there, we were unable to leave with out being escorted by a member of The White House staff.

It all seemed like something out of a movie, especially once the secret service agents arrived. They stood feet away from us, clad in their dark suits with ear pieces dangling into their collars.
The event was a fund raiser, and tickets went for $150 a piece, so I knew that the crowd would be filled with people who really wanted to see the first lady, but the reactions of some crowd members were so exuberant, it was almost laughable.

Two members of the crowd stick out in my memory. A pair of teens were so full of excitement that they stood in the crowd bouncing up and down and practically squealing with delight. Personally, I don’t remember a time when I was ever that excited about politics as a teenager. It was funny to see such a reaction at a campaign fund raiser, but I guess it’s a good thing that in a time of extremely low voter turn out, some people can get excited about politics.

Of all the events I have covered over the past two months, this was one of the most interesting. I was glad I got to go, and thrilled that I didn’t accidentally cause any national incidents.