Obama’s Connecticut Visit Leads To Beach Closures, Annoyed Residents
WESTPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Protesters and film stars were on hand Monday to greet President Barack Obama, who came to Connecticut to raise money for his re-election campaign.
But before the campaign events, there was a Secret Service surprise Monday for beach-goers in the state.
They were denied access to the surf and sand, all because of a presidential visit later in the evening, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported. Instead of a day with sun sand and surf, beach goers’ cars were being turned away from two public beaches in Westport.
“I don’t like that,” Dot Monteleone said.
“They told me the beach was closed today for a political gathering,” Kim Nelson added.
The Democrat was the main attraction at a $500 per person fundraising reception at the Stamford Marriott, which drew several hundred people, including top state Democrats such as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Outside the Marriott, where there was a heavy police presence, about 75 protesters were on hand chanting “hey, hey, ho, ho, Barack Obama’s got to go.” In support of the demonstrators, 64-year-old Palin Smith of Woodbury brought the crowd 100 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain at the center of a national debate over gay marriage. The company’s president recently touched off the skirmish when he told the Baptist Press that Chick-fil-A was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.”
Later in the evening, the president attended a $35,800 per person dinner at the Westport home of movie producer Harvey Weinstein, where the hosts include actresses Anne Hathaway and Joanne Woodward and writer Aaron Sorkin.
Both events were expected to bring in at least $2.5 million for Obama’s campaign.
For security reasons, the Secret Service asked that Sherwood Island State Park, and Burying Hill Beach near the Weinstein home be closed.
Some people said closing the beaches all day was a little much.
“I think we should have part of the day. I drove all the way up here for nothing,” Violet Applewhite said.
But others said protection of the president comes first.
“You know what? They have to have that kind of security. I think it’s smart,” Laura Axthelm said.
But even in the wealthy town of Westport overtime costs are a concern.
“The last presidential visit was in 1999. Bill Clinton. We got no money. We are going to incur overtime costs,” Westport Selectman Gordon Joseloff said.
To some, it’s an honor having the president visiting their town. To others, it’s viewed as an inconvenience, having to find another place in the sun.
Westport officials estimate that overtime for the day could run from $10,000 to $15,000.
In July, Mitt Romney led in fundraising, $100 million to the president’s $75 million.
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