On Saturday afternoon, President Barack Obama visited One More Page Books, an independent book store at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.
The visit coincided with the post-Thanksgiving shopping day known as Small Business Saturday. With daughters Sasha and Malia in tow, and after several checks of the shopping list on his Blackberry, the president purchased 15 children’s books as Christmas presents.
We asked One More Page owner Eileen McGervey about the experience of hosting the Commander in Chief as a customer.
ARLnow: How did you first find out about the president’s visit?
We found out that President Obama and his daughters would be visiting about 10 minutes before they arrived.
ARLnow: What preparations did you make?
We didn’t have time to do anything. The security folks came in and went through the store in the time before they arrived.
ARLnow: Tell us a bit about the visit — what were they looking for, what did they say to you, etc.?
The President and his daughters were lovely and gracious and we chatted about books. The President had a shopping list of books for gifts and his daughters helped him select from the list. They did browse around the store. The President chatted with customers who were in the store when he arrived and at the end of his shopping, he took pictures with customers. A couple having their wedding reception at La Cote D’or restaurant asked if they could have their picture taken with him (and he said yes) — they were thrilled. While he was in the store, a crowd had gathered outside the store and when he walked out the door a roar went up. He shook hands with folks waiting outside. It was wonderful and folks who had been waiting outside came in after he left to talk about it — everyone was so excited and thrilled.
ARLnow: What has it been like since the visit? Have more people been stopping by the store?
The store’s been very busy. Most of the people who came Saturday after the President left did not know he had been there. They were there for Small Business Saturday. Many of the customers yesterday and today came because the saw the news about the President’s business. It’s been a mix of new customers and regular customers coming by to shop and to congratulate us.
White House photo (top) by Pete Souza
President Visits Arlington Bookstore — President Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia stopped by One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) on Saturday afternoon, on a holiday shopping trip that coincided with Small Business Saturday. The independent book store is located in the East Falls Church neighborhood. [Associated Press, Us Weekly]
Yorktown Season Ends With Loss — The Yorktown High School football team’s first loss of the season came on Friday, as the Patriots gave up a 22-point lead to fall to Stone Bridge 69-50 in the Northern Region 5 championship game. Yorktown also lost last year’s regional championship after an undefeated season. [Washington Post, YouTube]
Hospital Receives Large Donation — Virginia Hospital Center has received a $2.2 million gift, which will be used to expand its radiation-oncology services. The donation, from Russell and Joan Hitt, is the largest in the hospital’s 68-year history. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.
The cheap gas was organized by the New American Energy Opportunity Foundation, a group that’s in favor of increased domestic energy production in the U.S. and critical of the Obama administration’s energy policies. Among those on hand for the promotion were former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R), who stopped by to lend support, and the “Gas Can Man” a smiling gas can mascot that has been appearing at similar events in Ohio, Virginia and elsewhere.
Organizers say they planned to provide the cheap gas for about 150 motorists between 7:00 and 9:00 this morning. They said drivers started lining up a half hour before the event in order to take advantage of the offer. Some of the drivers, organizers said, asked whether they could still fill up even though they were Obama supporters (yes, they could).
Two Arlington police officers helped direct traffic during the event, preventing drivers on busy Columbia Pike from queuing up for the promotion. Still, traffic on eastbound Columbia Pike was slow as drivers stopped to ask the officers why they weren’t allowed to block the Pike’s right-hand lane in order to wait for one of the pumps to open up.
Signs placed around the station during the event blamed President Obama for higher gas prices.
“No CHANGE to fill my gas tank!” said one.
“Can Obama,” said another.
The $1.84 per gallon price of gas reflects the price just before President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, in the midst of the country’s economic crisis. Organizers said the president’s energy policies have led to an increase in gas prices since he took office.
The price of gas at the Citgo station down the street from the event today was $3.55 per gallon. By comparison, in June 2008 under President George W. Bush, the average price of gas in the U.S. was $4.10 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
Photos by ARLnow.com and courtesy of Scot Crockett, as labeled
Earlier this year, an anti-Obama advertisement in the Clarendon Metro station containing the words “Go to hell, Barack” sparked controversy. Now, the same group behind that ad has another incendiary advertisement in the station.
“Obama: Socialist or Fascist?” the ad reads. “Just listen to the dead before you vote.”
The ad is from the maker of a DVD documentary called “Sick and Sicker: When the Government Becomes Your Doctor,” which — as we reported in February — sharply criticizes President Obama’s health care reform law and compares it to publicly-funded health care in Canada.
In a statement previously issued to ARLnow.com, a Metro spokesman said the agency cannot legally refuse ads based on political content.
WMATA advertising has been ruled by the courts as a public forum protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and we may not decline ads based on their political content. WMATA does not endorse the advertising on our system, and ads do not reflect the position of the Authority.
Photo courtesy Frank G.
Remembering 9/11 at the Pentagon — President Obama is expected to speak at a private ceremony at the Pentagon today commemorating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., the exact moment that five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 59 crew members and passengers and 125 people in the building. The “modest” ceremony, for survivors and family members of the victims, will include a wreath-laying and additional remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. [USA Today]
Pentagon Memorial to Reopen After Ceremony — Public access to the Pentagon Memorial will be restricted during this morning’s ceremony, but the memorial (pictured above) is expected to reopen at noon.
9/11 Day of Service Events in Arlington — There are several 9/11 Day of Service events planned in Arlington this week. Today, Capitals Hall-of-Famer Rod Langway and Bullets alumnus Bob Dandridge will join Arlington first responders and employees from Monumental Sports & Entertainment in helping to prepare the Arlington County Emergency Winter Shelter for its scheduled opening on Nov. 1. On Friday, AmeriCorps and Arlington County will host an invasive plant pull at James W. Haley Park (2400 S. Meade Street) “in honor of 9/11.”
Arlington Businesses Give Back — Several Arlington businesses have announced ways they’re remembering 9/11 today. The Bada Bing food truck is offering free sandwiches to all uniform firefighters and police officers, despite its recent run-ins with ordinance enforcement. Red Top Cab, meanwhile, announced that it will be donating $1 to a 9/11 memorial fund for each cab dispatched today.
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Four Mile Run Rapist Still on the Loose — Arlington County police are still looking for a man who raped a woman on the Four Mile Run Trail two weeks ago. Police are issuing warnings to women who use the trail, in English and in Spanish. Officers are also patrolling the trail on bike and motorcycles. [WJLA]
Marymount, O’Connell Teaming Up for Baseball Field — Marymount University will be adding a varsity baseball team to its athletic program after striking a deal with Bishop O’Connell High School to use the school’s baseball field. Marymount will fund the renovation of the O’Connell’s field to NCAA standards, in exchange for partial use of the field. Marymount hopes to have the baseball team ready for its first season by Spring 2014. [Sun Gazette]
N. Va. Critical to Obama Re-Election — The road to the White House runs through Northern Virginia, according to some political watchers. Experts say President Obama must score a big victory in Northern Virginia in order to capture the Commonwealth, one of three crucial, hotly-contested swing states. As a result, residents can expect a bombardment of political ads this fall. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec
At Cafe Asia in Rosslyn, Penn spoke to a young professionals event about the importance of the upcoming presidential election.
“The stakes in this election are extremely high and none of us want to see the country move backwards,” Penn said. “Obviously Virginia is a battleground state, so there are a lot of resources on both sides of the aisle being poured in here.”
Penn, 35, spent two of the past four years working in the Obama White House, in between acting jobs. He said he’s again taking a break from his acting career to make sure the president wins a second term in office.
“I loved and felt very honored to serve the president for two years and a lot of folks are doing their part… not just actors but teachers, firemen, policemen, students, young entrepreneurs,” Penn said. “As much as a love the movie career… seeing what the stakes are and seeing what the alternative is just makes you want to do everything you can between now and November to get the president re-elected. I feel lucky that I can go back to my creative job, but right now when we do events like this, it’s a little more serious in tone.”
In a question and answer session, Penn couldn’t escape a query about his showbiz career, which has included roles in movies like Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, and TV shows like House and How I Met Your Mother.
“What was more fun, working at the White House or working on House?” one young man asked. The White House, Penn replied.
Penn was joined by former White House Chief Technology Officer, Arlington resident, and possible candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor Aneesh Chopra, who spoke passionately about the role of young people and Asian Americans in propelling the president to victory in 2008.
After the event in Rosslyn, Penn and Chopra met with phone bank volunteers at the Obama campaign’s Arlington office at 2408 Columbia Pike. Protesters held anti-Obama signs outside both the Rosslyn and Columbia Pike events.
Among the messages on the signs were references to Penn’s movies, including: “Obama & Kumar Go To Debt Castle” and “If the private sector is ‘doing fine’ then Harold & Kumar should win Best Picture.”
Actor Kal Penn will be making two appearances in Arlington on Monday night, June 11, as part of his work on President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Penn — famous for roles in movies like Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, and TV shows like House and How I Met Your Mother – will first drop by a young professionals event at Café Asia (1550 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn at 6:00 p.m. He’s expected to talk about why he supports President Obama and why Virginia is an especially important state in the re-election effort.
At 7:30 p.m., Penn will greet phone bank volunteers at the Obama campaign’s Arlington office (2408 Columbia Pike).
Following President Obama’s election, Penn left acting for two years to go to work in the White House Office of Public Engagement. He’s currently taking another break from acting in order to work as a co-chair — or surrogate — for the president’s re-election campaign.
Photo via the White House
Obama Speaks of Peace in Arlington Speech– In his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spoke of a “milestone” reached in the past year with the end of the Iraq war. “After a decade under a dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.” Mr. Obama also spoke of protecting veterans’ benefits. [Los Angeles Times, Associated Press]
Arlington Church Hosts Rolling Thunder Riders — The Arlington Assembly of God church, located just off Route 50 in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, hosted 300-400 Rolling Thunder riders over the weekend. The motorcyclists made camp outside the church or slept in the church itself. [Arlington Mercury]
Artisphere Gets First Artist-in-Residence — Local artist Beth Baldwin has been selected to be Artisphere’s (1101 Wilson Blvd) first artist-in-residence. Baldwin’s residency will stretch between now and November 11. Her 500 square foot studio will be located off of Artishpere’s main entrance lobby. “Baldwin will collaborate with Artisphere to create programming that involves her work and allows for visitors to learn more about her artistry, including ‘Plushie Design’ classes for all ages,” Artisphere said in a press release.
He made the comment in an ABC News exclusive, after having said for years he only supports civil unions and not same sex marriages.
“I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue,” President Obama said. “As I talked to friends and family and neighbors… at a certain point I’ve just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
On the local level in Arlington, Rep. Jim Moran (D) is voicing his support of Mr. Obama’s announcement. He notes his record of actions to prevent discrimination, such as being a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, voting against the Defense of Marriage Act when it passed in Congress in 1996 and working to overturn the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
Here’s the statement he issued on the matter:
“President Obama’s comments today reflect the views of a growing number of Americans across the country. I welcome the President’s words, and those of members of his Administration, for their outspoken support for marriage equality.
“Marriage equality is an issue of basic fairness. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that “all men are created equal” and that everyone has a right to “the pursuit of happiness” – principles that surely cannot be achieved without the ability to marry the person you love. Religious institutions have the right to define and sanction marriages in keeping with their religions’ faith. But the federal government has no place in determining which types of state-sanctioned marriages to recognize.
“The President’s comments today represent an important turning point in the fight to end discrimination. President Obama has become the first sitting President to take this position, and he deserves credit for arriving at this decision. Much work remains to achieve the goal of true equality for all citizens. I will continue my efforts to ensure that all Americans, regardless of age, race, gender and sexual orientation, are afforded equal rights and protection.”
(Updated at 7:35 p.m.) President Obama visited Washington-Lee High School in Arlington today, continuing his push to get Congress to act on legislation that would prevent federally subsidized student loan rates from doubling on July 1.
The president met for a private round table discussion with three students before addressing an enthusiastic crowd of more than a thousand Washington-Lee juniors, seniors, and parents in the school gymnasium.
After opening remarks that included riffs on prom, final exams and the school’s upcoming graduation, the president began making the case for maintaining the Stafford loan program and keeping student loan interest rates low.
“You guys shouldn’t have to pay an extra thousand dollars [per year] just because Congress can’t get it’s act together,” President Obama said. “In the long run, the most important thing we can do for our economy is to give all of you and all Americans the best education possible.”
“I guarantee you, members of Congress — they pay attention,” President Obama said. “Your voice can make a difference.”
“Teach them how to Tweet,” the president added, motioning to the parents in the room.
The president concluded his remarks by saying that the students in the room were part of a generation that will “remind the world just why it is America is the greatest nation on Earth.”
“When I met your classmates, when I look out at your faces, it gives me confidence about our future,” Mr. Obama said, to wild applause. ”I believe in you.”
The president then spent about 10 minutes shaking hands with students before departing the building.
The president’s visit largely went off without a hitch, though there was a small group of protesters outside the school during his arrival, one with a sign that read “Where is the recovery, Mr. President?” A student in the gymnasium fainted shortly before the president’s arrival, but was able to stay for the speech after receiving medical attention.
This was President Obama’s fifth official visit to an Arlington public school during his first term in office. School officials said they could not recall any visits from his predecessor, President George W. Bush.
The choice of venue seemed to work in Mr. Obama’s favor. The crowd at Washington-Lee booed when the president said student loan rates could double, shouted “no” in unison when asked if they wanted to pay a higher interest rate, and applauded with gusto at all the right times. The crowd was so obliging that the reporter filing today’s White House pool report concluded that the president “could not have found a better audience.”
Local officials, including Rep. Jim Moran, Del. Bob Brink, County Board member Libby Garvey, and Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, were also in the crowd.
The president was introduced by Washington-Lee senior Amirah Delwin, one of the three students who, along with their parents, took part in the roundtable discussion with the president and Education Secretary Arne Duncan before the speech.
Delwin, who will be studying psychology at Old Dominion University in the fall, delivered a speech intended to reinforce the president’s message.
“I wouldn’t be able to go to school without Stafford student loans,” she said in an energetic speech that prompted a shout of “I love you” from a fellow classmate. Later, the president told the crowd that “following Amira is kind of tough.”
Delwin told ARLnow.com that one of her teachers recommended her to be in the group that met with the president.
“I was in sociology one day and they randomly called me downstairs,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was for, I initially thought I was in trouble.”
After the president’s speech Delwin, along with fellow roundtable participants Brendan Craig and Rina Castaneda, gave interviews to the various members of the media that came to cover the event. After that, they went back to class.
The White House-provided transcript of the president’s remarks, after the jump.
Obama to Visit W-L Today — President Obama will be making a lunchtime visit to Washington-Lee High School today. Expect heightened security in the area.
Bus Stop Improvements — The County has been making improvements to certain bus stops around Arlington. One recent stop to get a makeover — complete with a shelter and a Capital Bikeshare station — is at 15th and Hayes Streets in Pentagon City. [Arlington Transit]
GMU Green Patriot Award — George Mason University has issued its first annual ‘Green Patriot’ environmental award. The honor was given to Martin Ogle, the chief naturalist at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, who is retiring this month after 27 years with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. [Sun Gazette]
Federal Agency Offers Zombie Classes — In an apparent attempt to bring some levity to federal bureaucracy, classes on how to be a zombie are being offered at the Arlington offices of the Fish and Wildlife Service. [Washington Post]
The President will be focusing on the need to prevent interest rates on federally subsidized student loans from doubling. If Congress does not act, the loan rate will double on July 1, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Both he and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney have said that action needs to be taken to prevent that from happening.
President Obama is scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion on the issue with graduating W-L seniors and their parents. He will then deliver prepared remarks to the junior and senior classes on “the importance of their having a fair shot at an affordable higher education and the skills they need to find a good job,” according to the White House.
The public will not be able to attend the lunchtime event. The Arlington County Police Department will be helping to direct traffic in the area during the presidential visit.
Democratic officials say about 200 supporters showed up on Sunday afternoon for the opening of a new, local Obama presidential campaign office at 2408 Columbia Pike.
Among the bold-faced names who spoke at the event were former Democratic National Committee chair and likely 2013 Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Jim Moran, and Obama campaign deputy political director Yohannes Abraham. Getting out the vote in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia is an important goal for the Obama campaign, which is trying to repeat the president’s 2008 victory in Virginia, a key swing state.
“We know we have to deliver the vote here in Virginia,” Rep. Moran said on Sunday. “The stakes are high this year, but as we can see today, the Obama campaign has an army of grassroots supporters who are ready to go to battle.”
Video of several of the speeches at the Arlington Obama headquarters opening is available on the Democratic blog Blue Virginia.
Photo courtesy Obama campaign
According to a recently created Facebook page and the Arlington Democrats website, the grand opening of the Obama for America office is taking place from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors are encouraged to attend the event to meet staff and other supporters, as well as learning about neighborhood teams throughout the county.
In addition to asking for monetary support for the campaign, the Arlington Democrats are looking for volunteers and donations of supplies for the headquarters.