Cushing Prepares For Presidential Visit, Invitation-Only Speech

Tuesday, March 20th 2012, 12:38 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Oklahoma is preparing for its first visit from President Barack Obama -- a trip he intends to use to defend his energy policies.

The president will arrive in Oklahoma Wednesday night. He'll travel to the Cushing area Thursday morning and make his remarks at the TransCanada Pipe Yard.

3/20/2012 Related Story: President's Visit May Lead To Traffic Tie-Ups In Downtown OKC

In small Cushing -- population 8,000 -- preparations are underway for the  presidential visit.

Residents report seeing Secret Service agents driving dark tinted SUVs around town for the past couple of days.

Brent Thompson with the Cushing Chamber of Commerce says he first got a call from the White House on Wednesday, but didn't learn the president was coming until Friday. Since then, phones have been ringing off the hook with people wanting information and trying to find out how to get tickets to see the president.

The event is invitation only. Thompson says he believes there are only about 150 people have been invited to see the president speak. He was allocated 23 invites to hand out to board members and such.

"For those of us in small town America, it's not that common so we're very excited about him coming," Thompson said.

3/16/2012 Related Story: President Obama To Tout Energy Policies In Oklahoma

This is Obama's first trip to Oklahoma during his presidency. It comes at a time when gas prices are soaring and Republicans are blasting him for the administration's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

2/27/2012 Related Story: Keystone Pipeline Could Bring Gas Prices Down For Oklahomans

The president has said he supports the segment of the pipeline that would run from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. Obama says his administration is committed to improving and supporting the infrastructure that helps leverage domestic resources, but he says it must be done in a safe and responsible way.

Republicans argue Obama's energy policies are costing the country much-needed jobs and causing gas prices to skyrocket.

Most folks around Cushing don't agree with what the president has been serving up politically. But for most of the lunchtime crowd at Naifeh's they are willing to put that aside for one day.

"In a community like this when a president comes to town it's a historic event," said Cushing resident David Reid. "I don't think we've ever had a president come to Cushing so that's cool."

"I have never seen a president in person, I hear it's going to be very chaotic and I want to see the chaos, I want to see the security, I want to see how it's done and of course I want to see him," Cushing resident Shirley Teegarden Rubenstein said.

The president plans to leave Oklahoma soon after his speech in Cushing.