Tales from the Trail

Obama gets custom-made New Balance running shoes

President Barack Obama is well known as a basketball fanatic, but he might feel more like going for a jog after receiving a custom-made pair of New Balance running shows, embroidered with the words “President” and “Obama,” on them Friday night in Maine.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or free sneakers, however. Obama will also get a nudge from a Maine lawmaker to require that the Department of Defense outfit service members with domestically-produced athletic shoes.

Mike Michaud, who represents Maine’s Second Congressional District, picked up Obama’s size 12D gray sneakers on Friday from New Balance’s facility in Norridgewock, central Maine. He will present the shoes at an Obama fundraiser at the Portland Museum of Art.

Michaud has been working on the defense issue since last year to promote manufacturing growth in his state. Maine is historically a major footwear manufacturer which has seen its production undercut by foreign competition. In all, tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in the footwear industry have moved overseas.

“The workers in Norridgewock produced a pair of high-quality sneakers, and I’m proud to be able to deliver this Maine-made product to the President,” Michaud said. “I’m hopeful he’ll make this policy change so that we can create more jobs in Maine. We also need to be doing whatever we can to encourage domestic procurement government-wide.”

For Obama, what’s bigger challenge — being a dad or being president?

Barack Obama has a storied resume but the job he says is the hardest may surprise you: being a father.

OBAMAThe U.S. president, who has drawn headlines for pushing dads to be more involved in their children’s lives, returned to the subject on Monday.

“Over the course of my life, I have been an attorney, I’ve been a professor, I’ve been a state senator, I’ve been a U.S. senator — and I currently am serving as President of the United States,” Obama said at an event celebrating Father’s Day.

from Photographers' Blog:

Destination: Afghanistan

It all started out with a phone call from Reuters News Pictures Washington Editor In Charge Jim Bourg on Thursday night informing me there was a secret Presidential trip leaving on Saturday to an undisclosed destination which Reuters would like me to travel with the president on. I was told that this was very secretive and that I was not to mention it to anyone and that no details were available yet. I had been with President Obama on his secret trip to Baghdad last year, so it was pretty easy to figure out that the destination this time might be Afghanistan, a trip which had been highly anticipated since Obama became president 15 months ago. I was to expect to be contacted directly by the White House for a meeting to discuss the details. But I was to "open" the White House as the first Reuters photographer arriving there on Friday morning at 7am, my scheduled shift, and to go about my day as planned acting as if everything was normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That afternoon I was called in to meet with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in his office at 4pm, along with some of the other members of the 14 person media travel pool who would be going on the secret trip aboard Air Force One.

We were given a schedule of events and were sworn to secrecy. I headed home to pack and test out the BGAN satellite phone I had been provided by Reuters for the trip.

from DealZone:

‘New GM’ Gets a Visit from a Shareholder

obamalordstown1 GM's Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant has become a symbol of both GM's hard times and its best hopes for a turnaround after a $50 billion federal investment. A recent bump in sales because of the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program has allowed GM to call back more than 1,000 workers from layoff.   So it was a natural backdrop for a return visit by President Obama, who held a roundtable with workers and then gave a stump speech from the factory floor for his economic policies and health care reform.   But this is not your father's GM anymore and nothing about it as clear-cut as it seems -- even if you are the leader of the free world and head of the government that holds a controlling stake in the automaker.     At one point, Obama -- veering from his prepared remarks -- suggested that health-care reform would allow the UAW-represented workers in the audience to negotiate better wages.

“Think about it. If you are a member of the union right now, you’re spending all your time negotiating about health care. You need to be spending some time negotiating about wages, but you can’t do it," he said.

 

In fact, the UAW locked itself into a contract limiting wages and changes to health care, without the ability to negotiate with a threat of strike, until 2015. These stands were agreed to by the union at the prodding of the Obama administration, which demanded that union autoworkers accept lower wages -- as a condition to the bailout that saved Lordstown -- to match non-union workers at Toyota plants in Kentucky and Honda plants in Ohio.

Gaffes and protocol slips in the Obama/”Buden” White House

It’s May 4th, but the White House decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) a day early.
    That’s not exactly a breach of protocol, but introducing the Mexican ambassador and then not letting him speak kind of is.
USA/OBAMA    That’s what President Barack Obama did on Monday at a White House ceremony to highlight the Mexican holiday.
    “Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro — Cinco de Mayo at the White House,” Obama told a group of mostly Hispanic guests at the executive mansion. “We are a day early, but we always like to get a head start here at the Obama White House.”
    After making brief remarks Obama introduced the Mexican ambassador, Arturo Sarukhan, and his wife, Valencia.
    But as Sarukhan made his way to the podium, the president and first lady Michelle Obama made their way into the crowd and started shaking hands.
    As crowds go, shaking hands with Barack Obama has a way of trumping speeches from Mexican ambassadors, so the noise level in the White House’s Grand Foyer rose and the ambassador looked like he wasn’t going to get to that speech.
    Whoops. The president realized his mistake, stopped shaking hands, and came back to the podium to urge quiet.
    “In an incredible breach of protocol, I introduced my good friend, the Ambassador, but he has greetings from the people of Mexico,” Obama said. “So I take complete responsibility for that.  I apologize.  Will everybody please settle down, and let’s hear from our Ambassador from Mexico.”
    Applause, applause, and all was well. Sarukhan delivered his remarks and the crowd went back to partying.
    The gaffe was not the only one to come out of the White House on Monday. Earlier in the day Vice President Biden’s office sent out a statement that it had to correct minutes later. The mistake? The boss’s name was misspelled.
    “Vice President Buden Kicks Off $32 million Renovation and Restoration of Wilimington Train Station” the announcement read.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas (Obama with Sarukhan)