More than 200 people lined the streets of northwest Baltimore Friday afternoon in the hopes of catching a glimpse of President Barack Obama on his way to a fundraising dinner for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Yosef Wiener and his wife left their Shabbot meal cooking to walk about a half mile from their home to the corner of Green Meadow Parkway and Edenvale Road to show their young children the presidential motorcade. They had heard about the president’s visit through word-of-mouth and thought it might be a good learning opportunity for their kids, who stood on the curb waving American flags as they waited.
Friends Zacharya Volosov, Chaim Lejtman and Shuli Katz took the advantage of the downtime between dismissal at Talmudical Academy and the start of Shabbat to try to see the president in their neighborhood. The visit was the talk of the school all week, they said, and it had become a kind of game to guess where the president’s helicopter would land in the area.
While the majority of the people gathered had come to watch the black limousines make their way through the Cheswolde streets, some had come to send a message to the country’s highest executive.
“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied,” read one sign held by an attendee with the CASA de Maryland group that had arrived to protest the president’s recent decision to delay any immigration reform.
“Stop Terrorism, Support Israel,” read another sign on the opposite side of the street.
“The Jewish community needs to realize that Democrats are not their friends,” said Ruth Goetz, who brought signs with her for people to borrow protesting the Obama administration’s policies on Israel.
The president landed in Port Covington just before 4 p.m. and headed straight to FortMcHenry, where he, along with Gov. Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin; Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake viewed the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The dinner was hosted by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) president Howard Friedman, along with Josh Fidler, an area developer who hosted another fundraiser attended by Obama in 2012. Tickets to the event cost between $10,000 and $32,400 and featured a 10-minute sppech by Obama concerning some of the most high-profile issues of the day followed by questions from dinner attendees.
“And if you want to know why we’re here today, it’s because having a strong Democratic Senate allows us to continue to pursue a vision of an inclusive, progressive, economic agenda that is going to continue to give more and more people the chance to pursue the American Dream in the way that I have and Howard has, and so many people around this room have,” Obama told guests. The president also took questions after his speech.
In addition to the Senate, the president spoke about international conflicts, including Ukraine and ISIS.
“I made a speech this week discussing what is the most prominent threat that we face in the Middle East when it comes to terrorism, and that is the organization ISIL, that has not only taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria but displayed the kind of brutality that even by the standards of terrorists is extraordinary,” Obama said. “And I am very confident that with an Iraqi government in place that is committed to the kind of inclusive government that is needed there and sadly has not been there for some time, and the kind of coalition that we’re putting together internationally, and most importantly, the incredible courage and dedication and skills of our men and women in uniform, we’re going to be able to push them back and ultimately destroy them.”
Baltimore Jewish Times reporter Marc Shapiro contributed to this report.