Saturday, April 09, 2011

President Thrills Tourists At Lincoln Memorial

Shutdown showman: President drops by monument to greet visitors...
After a brief speech late on Friday night announcing that the government would remain "open for business" thanks to a budget deal that averted a federal shutdown, President Obama proved his point today with an "unscheduled" drop-in to the Lincoln Memorial, where he shook hands with thrilled tourists (above).

“Hi everybody. I just wanted to say, real quick, that because Congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today and everybody’s able to enjoy their visit," President Obama said to the crowd gathered at the top of the monument, in front of the seated stone statue of President Abraham Lincoln.

The President arrived at the monument to one of his own personal heroes shortly after 2:35 PM, casually attired in gray chinos and a black zip-up jacket. He bounded up the steps, surrounded by his Secret Service detail. Saturday was a busy day on the Washington, DC tourist calendar: The annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade was held, as was the annual Spring Garden Tour at the White House. (Above: The hyper athletic President running up the steps in his oxfords)

The President could just as easily have mingled with the hundreds of tourists who were at that very moment romping around on the South Lawn, but his visit to the Lincoln Memorial twinned nicely with his speech last night; he noted then that the Washington Monument, and National Parks across the US, would remain open, thanks to the budget deal.

President Obama told the Lincoln crowd that he hopes both parties can continue to work together, just as they did on the budget deal.

"That's the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward," he said.

The budget negotiation was long and rancorous, and last night, the President called some of the GOP-demanded cuts "painful," adding "I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances."

The President's theme song is Accentuate The Positive, however.

"This is what America is all about: Everybody from different places enjoying those things that bind us together," President Obama told the Lincoln crowd. "It is wonderful to spend time with you guys, I hope you have a great time.”

The President then descended the steps slowly, shaking hands as he worked his way back down to the bottom, where he was surrounded by more visitors, and shook more hands. (Above: At the bottom of the monument, the President greets more tourists)

The President pointedly ignored shouted questions from his press pool as he bid the crowd farewell. A few days before he was inaugurated in 2009, President-elect Obama visited the Lincoln Memorial with his family.

A close Chicago friend accompanied the President in the motorcade on Saturday, according to pool: Eric Whitaker was spotted, as was White House trip director Marvin Nicholson. Both are regular presidential golf partners.

Above: More waves as the President departs the Lincoln Memorial.

*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; second by Reuters; others from Getty