Obama attends local fundraisers

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 23, 2012

 President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, following a fundraising event April 18.

President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, following a fundraising event April 18.

Photo provided by Pete Souza


BINGHAM FARMS — President Barack Obama is starting to ramp up efforts for his re-election campaign, and the commander in chief made a stop in Michigan April 18 to attend two fundraising events around metro Detroit.

First stop was a fundraiser at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. The event was expected to attract more than 500 people, who paid up to $5,000 for the chance to greet the president and perhaps snag a photo.

While at the museum, Obama stopped for a moment to sit briefly in Rosa Parks’ bus — a popular attraction at The Henry Ford, according to pool report from the White House Press Office supplied by Matthew McGrath, Michigan press secretary for Obama for America. The president took time out of his busy evening to reflect on the impact the civil rights leader had on the country as he sat in the very seat she refused to vacate to accommodate a white passenger 57 years ago, according to the report.

“I just sat in there for a moment and pondered the courage and tenacity that is part of our very recent history, but is also part of that long line of folks who sometimes are nameless, oftentimes didn’t make the history books, but who constantly insisted on their dignity. Their share of the American dream,” he said in the report.

From there, Obama made his way to the home of Denise Ilitch in Bingham Farms for a fundraiser dinner and cocktail reception. Ilitch has a long-standing relationship with the president, who advised her when she was considering a run for Michigan governor in 2010. She decided later the timing wasn’t right and suspended campaign plans.

The event, which was set to begin at 6 p.m., hosted about 47 attendees, who paid between $10,000 and $40,000 a ticket, according to McGrath. Among those seen in attendance at the fundraiser were former NBA player Jalen Rose and attorney Geoffrey Fieger, according to the report.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go the Obama Victory Fund, as well as several other state Democratic efforts.

Ilitch introduced the president to the crowd as “a champion for Detroit when we needed one,” according to the report; she went on, thanking him for “never forgetting or forsaking Michigan.”

As to why Obama is focusing in so closely on Michigan, McGrath said the state has always played an important role in presidential elections.

“I think Michigan has a history and a tradition of being a swing state, so the camp is taking it very seriously,” said McGrath. “The auto industry has had a rebound success, and that’s something the president is very proud of. We’re here to run on that record.”

As for Bingham Farms, there wasn’t too much of a hassle for residents while the president was ushered in and out of the neighborhood that evening. According to Chief Patrick Browne of the Franklin-Bingham Farms Police Department, only minor road closures were necessary to accommodate the president and his security detail.

“We didn’t have any problems. We did have the president’s motorcade enter our jurisdiction, and we did shut the roads down while he entered and exited the area,” said Browne. “The roads were closed for a very minimal amount of time. There were no problems and no complaints.”

Members of the group Detroit Area Peace with Justice Network held a vigil at the edge of Ilitch’s block as the president approached the home for the event. The group, comprised of 22 Detroit-based peace and justice organizations, hoped to send a clear message that they do not support any military action against Iran.