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.
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.
Obama hasn't been in Oklahoma since making a campaign appearance March 19, 2007, in Oklahoma City. About 1,000 people showed up at the Farmers Public Market building. Former Gov. Brad Henry, who endorsed Obama in April 2008, had said during the last two years of his administration, which ended in January 2011, that he had invited the president to visit the Sooner State but to no avail.
The governor's secretary of commerce, Dave Lopez, will represent the governor's office Thursday when the president goes to the Cushing area to make his comments, said Fallin's communications director, Alex Weintz. The governor's energy secretary, Mike Ming, is out of town on a business trip, he said.
Obama is to talk at a storage yard holding pipes that will be used for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline connecting Cushing to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. He has said recently he supports that segment of the pipeline. His administration in January rejected the portion of the pipeline that would carry crude from Alberta, Canada, and Montana and North Dakota to Cushing because a route through Nebraska had not been determined.
on family vacation
The governor's office did not receive official word from the White House that the president was coming to Oklahoma until Sunday night Weintz said.
The governor's office first heard about the president's visit from news reports Friday afternoon, he said. By then, the governor, her husband and some of their children were on a commercial flight headed to Puerto Rico for a family vacation, he said. The governor is expected to return Thursday.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb had served as acting governor until Tuesday, when he left about noon for Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting that begins Wednesday. Lamb is treasurer of the organization.
“What's ironic about the whole situation is he's actually going to be meeting with Vice President (Joe) Biden ... while the president's here,” said Ashley Kehl, Lamb's spokeswoman.