The President of the United States came through Stamford Monday evening and stopped by for what was essentially a cocktail hour before heading on to the main event in Westport.
Barack Obama met supporters at the Stamford Marriott for a $500-a-head reception where he spoke for about 25 minutes. Guests said Obama was as dynamic and personable in person as he comes across on television.
"He really rallied the troops," said Kevin Segalla, who attended the event with his wife Michele. "He compared Romney's stealing from the poor to give to the rich to a reverse Robin Hood. He called it a Romney Hood."
Segalla guessed there were maybe 400 people who attended the standing-room-only event. He also said Obama didn't hang around for long, just made his appearance, spoke, shook some hands and left.
Lea Mintz was celebrating her 87th birthday with the trip, accompanied by State Representative candidate Leon and Maria Karvelis. Mintz was glowing about the president giving her a little gift of his own.
"He gave me a kiss right on my cheek," she exclaimed. "I'm 87 today and that's why I got this kiss!"
To the audience, Obama said he's never claimed to be perfect, only that he would continue fighting in the best ways he knew how to make the lives of the American people just a little bit better.
"Five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, won't we be better off if we had the courage to keep working and to keep fighting and moving forward—understanding that it's not easy," Obama said. "Change has never been easy."
Back and forth between Westport and Stamford
A pack of marine helicopters, including Marine One, flew over Fairfield County at 5:15 p.m., to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, where Obama's entourage landed and then got in a motorcade that brought them to Stamford. State Police shut down I-95 southbound from Exit 19 all the way to Stamford.
After the Stamford event, President Obama's motorcade drove back to Westport for movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's fundraiser at his Beachside Avenue mansion.
Obama left the Stamford Marriott in a motorcade of more than a dozen vans, large black SUVs, police escorts on motorcycle, in cars and large special-purpose trucks—and two Presidential limousines just a gun turret shy of being tanks.
Arriving back in Westport, Obama passed by a group of nearly 80 cheering people at the corner of Beachside Common, which neighbor's Weinstein's home. The pack of supporters held signs supporting the president that read, "We Love you," and "Welcome to CT!" During the moments leading up to the first sight of the President's motorcade, the eager crowd began to cheer at the sight of approaching law enforcement vehicles.
Outside and inside the Stamford Marriott
Obama passed by a group of nearly 80 cheering people at the corner of Beachside Common, which neighbor's Weinstein's home. The pack of supporters held signs supporting the president that read, "We Love you," and "Welcome to CT!" During the moments leading up to the first sight of the President's motorcade, the eager crowd began to cheer at the sight of approaching law enforcement vehicles.
If you thought you might have been able to check out the private gathering from your sailboat or yacht, you would have encountered a United States Coast Guard vessel, which has been on patrol in front of Weinstein’s colonial home since this morning.
Across the street from the Marriott for a good portion of the front end of Obama's visit to Stamford, local Tea Party members took up the sidewalk in front of the fenced off redevelopment site on Tresser Boulevard.
They didn't like the change Obama has been working towards in America, and many want him out of office and "want our country back," according to many of the signs available for perusing.
"We're here to send a message to President Obama and the six incumbents in there with him," said Palin Smith, co-organizer of the protest efforts. "We've got members her from Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. We want people to know we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."
Smith said the movement is "not dead, just tired," but promised a new push as the election campaigns around the area ramped up.
"It's time to put some new blood in this old elephant," he said.
He said it's time for a movement of the Connecticut Republican party to move towards the principals of old.
"We need lower taxes, smaller, more efficient government and a more business-friendly environment," he said. "I used to be able to get a CD with 3 or 4-percent interest on it, now those are down to .75-percent interest. They're robbing elderly people of their savings."
To that point, even though there's no way he could have heard it, Obama responded while addressing the audience inside.
"When you're talking to your friends and your neighbors, and they're saying, 'Well, I don't know, I'm not sure?' You just tell them, look, if you believe that a plan to just cut taxes and eliminate regulations is going to make our economy stronger, even if it means gutting investments in education or infrastructure or science, if you want an America that essentially sets our sights lower, then by all means send these folks to Washington for the next few years."
One of the last things the Tea Party members did before leaving was start a raucous chant of "Chick-Fil-A, Chick-Fil-A." Smith had purchased 101 sandwiches at a Chick-fil-A earlier in the day—"One for me and 100 for my friends," he said—to support what he called "a business that deserves to run itself how it sees fit without being discriminated against."
Among the high-profile names in Connecticut politics in attendance for the event were Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lieutenant Gov. Nancy Wyman, Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Congressmen Jim Himes, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Chris Murphy. Stamford Democratic City Committee Chairman John Mallozzi and state Rep. Geoff Fox were also in attendance, as was state General Counsel Andrew McDonald and Stamford city Rep. Gloria DePina, according to White House reports.
Editor's note: Parts of this article originally were published and .