No official state welcome planned for President Obama's visit to Oklahoma

The president is landing Wednesday night at a federal base, and the governor and lieutenant governor are both out of state. The governor's commerce secretary will represent the state during President Barack Obama's comments Thursday in the Cushing area.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 21, 2012

President Barack Obama makes his first presidential visit this week to Oklahoma, but he won't receive an official welcome from state officials.

The Democratic president lands Wednesday night at Tinker Air Force Base. Gov. Mary Fallin and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, both Republicans, are out of the state for different reasons.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, the next in line to serve as acting governor, said Tuesday he hasn't received any notification or request from the White House. Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he isn't planning to go Thursday to the Cushing area where the president will talk about his administration's record on energy.

“We're on standby waiting to see if anybody contacts us,” said Nathan Atkins, Bingman's spokesman.

Obama's appearance as well as his arrival and his departure are not open to the public.

The president is spending Wednesday night in Oklahoma City and will leave in the morning for the Cushing area.

Details where the president stays often are not released because of security reasons.

Delays expected

Oklahoma City officials issued a news release Wednesday that suggests Obama could be spending the night at a downtown hotel. Downtown motorists could encounter some street closures and potential delays starting Wednesday afternoon continuing through Thursday “as a result of President Obama's visit to Oklahoma City,” the release said.

Thunder fans attending Wednesday night's basketball game will likely experience some delays with street closures and limited access to some parking garages and walkways near the arena, according to the release.

The Colcord Hotel, Century Parking Garage and Main Street parking garages will only be accessible by driving north on Robinson Avenue from Reno Avenue.

City officials said commuters Thursday morning are encouraged to leave early and allow plenty of time to reach their destination.

Obama, who failed to win any of Oklahoma's 77 counties when he won the White House in 2008, is the first sitting president to spend the night in Oklahoma in 20 years. President George H.W. Bush spent the night in Oklahoma City in March 1992 before giving a speech the next day at Oklahoma Christian University.

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