Obama supporters thrilled to meet president up close
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, March 23, 2012
3/23/12 at 7:52 AM
Transcript: Read President Obama's remarks during a visit to the TransCanada Pipe Yard near Cushing.
Related stories: President defends oil policy.
Obama makes his case on energy.
RIPLEY - Wearing a red, white and blue star-spangled jacket and gigantic grin, Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre was close to the front of the line when President Barack Obama started shaking hands with Oklahoma friends and supporters Thursday morning.
But Tulsan Toby Jenkins was concerned the president might not notice McIntyre in the crush of people trying to get up close and personal with Obama.
So Jenkins, executive director of Oklahomans for Equality, sacrificed his chance to shake the president's hand and pushed McIntyre closer to the front.
"I had to throw the senator in front of me to shake his hand," said Jenkins. "I felt like she needed to shake his hand."
Jenkins may have missed his own chance, but he says it was worth it.
"I'll go to my grave thinking of how wonderful it was that he heard the squeal of delight when she reached up there and shook his hand," Jenkins said with a hearty laugh.
McIntyre, the Tulsa County Democratic Party chairwoman, was still practically squealing as she told the story after Obama had left the pipeline staging area where he had come as part of his four-state "all of the above" energy tour.
"His hands were nice and soft!" she said. "It was just wonderful! Wonderful!"
Polls show that Obama is unpopular in Oklahoma, but no one would have thought so from watching the response he got from the select group of about 150 mostly Democratic lawmakers, volunteers and party officials during his first presidential visit to Oklahoma.
Among those in Thursday's crowd were former state Treasurer Scott Meacham, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Sen. Tom Adelson, Rep. Jabar Shumate, state AFL-CIO President Jimmy Curry, Rep. Corey Williams, Rep. Danny Morgan, Rep. Mike Shelton, Sen. Constance Johnson and former state Sen. Bernest Cain.
Not there were Gov. Mary Fallin, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and former Gov. Brad Henry - all of whom were out of state.
In general, the crowd was enthusiastic, but some were more so.
"President Obama, you bring sunshine to Oklahoma!" someone in the back of the crowd shouted as the president finished his speech.
Actually, it was a dreary, cloudy day, but the woman's point was well made, nonetheless.
As Obama worked his way down the line of Oklahoma supporters, he grinned, chatted and posed for pictures.
State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, joked that she will always treasure the photograph someone got of her - or rather the back of her head - as she shook Obama's hand.
"He is extremely personable," Virgin said. "In the short time that I got to see him, he seemed to really love walking the line and shaking hands. ... He really seemed like he loved to be with the people. That's not something you get to see in speeches on TV."
Also getting to shake hands with Obama was India Frasier, 5, of Tulsa.
Her grandmother, Democratic Party activist Sally Frasier, brought India to the speech. India brought along her Barack Obama doll, which she slept with for the first three years of her life.
Now she'll have a picture of herself, her grandmother and the president to go with her doll and her memories of the day.
At the end of the line, a woman volunteered to Obama that they shared something in common: They were both born in Hawaii.
Obama shot her a mock serious look and asked, "Do you have a birth certificate?"
Then he grinned, waved to the crowd and walked away.
Original Print Headline: Obama supporters thrilled to meet president up close
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
State Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre visits with President Barack Obama during his trip to the TransCanada Pipe Yard near Cushing on Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World