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President's visit was a moment to remember for many

Photo by Will Ingalls for WBFO

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – President Barack Obama's visit to Buffalo Thursday was relatively short, a little more than three hours. But for those who had a chance to see the President and hear him speak, the impression will be long lasting. WBFO's Joyce Kryszak was at Industrial Support in Buffalo for Mr. Obama's visit there and brought back some of those impressions.

Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's full story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

"This is the zenith of my political career," said Ken Preston.

The Democratic organizer was not alone in his excitement. Ten-year old Christopher Martinez got into the event because his father is an employee. Christopher trembled as he told us about shaking the president's hand. "It felt like it was a once in a lifetime chance and I will remember it forever," said Martinez.

It was hard to find anyone in the crowd of about 230 people who were not completely in awe of the experience. But it was not because of pomp and circumstance.

A single giant American flag hung from the high ceiling to the floor of the east side facility's warehouse. That and the Presidential seal on the podium were about the only signs that the leader of the free world was there.

It was an intentionally humble setting.

Mr. Obama put all the focus on the successful manufacturing facility and its owner Dave Sullivan.

Showcasing the company's success - growing from only four employees to about 70 in just 14 years - allowed the President to underscore the benefits of his small business agenda. He also pointed to the recent uptick in job growth as proof the economy has finally turned the corner. Industrial Support expanded with the help of a small business loan funded by the Recovery Act.

The President toured the facility for some time before coming out to talk with employees. Anthony Sabuda is Vice President of Sales and Engineering. He spent time with the President on the tour. Sabuda said it was not all about business. He descibed a playful moment when Mr.Obama encouraged a pool reporter to take a spin in a hover-craft manufatured at the plant.

The President was nearly as relaxed with the crowd when he came out to speak. He settled in, rolled up his sleeves and moved around the platform casually as if he would like to stay awhile. Mr. Obama even managed to hit some of his talking points on health care recounting a conversation he had with a woman at Duff's where he stopped for lunch.

But behind the light-hearted exchange was a two-fold message. Mr. Obama was defending his controversial health care law. And he let Buffalonians know he was making an effort to understand their problems.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown spoke with the President briefly when he arrived at the airport. Brown believes the President knows the city's issues and concerns. The President seemed to make that clear with some of his remarks in an otherwise upbeat speech.

"There are too many folks right here in Buffalo and all across the nation who are still hurting," said Mr. Obama.

But not everyone was convinced Mr. Obama truly feels their pain. Dorian Gaskin helps run a worker training business and a fathers group on the east side. Gaskin said he hopes the President will think about everything he saw here, including the plight of the poor and the working poor in the city.

"But the fact that he came here, you know, speaks volumes," said Gaskin.

Although this was the briefest of Mr. Obama's stops, Buffalo is one of only a handful of cities so far chosen for the President's White House to Main Street tour.