Obama SFO Encounters – On Scene With Bill Wilson

By Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2011

In terms of presidential stops in the San Francisco Bay Area this one can be described as brief. Air Force one touched down at SFO at 12:55 and was wheels up at approximately 3:30. The President was greeted upon arrival by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.


Mayor Lee greets President Obama.

They had a nice chat before the President and the Mayor walked over to the barricades where the “unpublic” public was waiting to greet him. In the information that the White House releases to the media it is always noted that the arrivals and departures are opened to pre-credentialed media, but closed to the public. However there are always people in a little area next to the media risers, that aren’t media but are invited guests.


Yes, this is San Francisco, but despite what it might look like, President Obama is not holding the Mayor’s hand.

This time invited guests included people who were connected to the campaign and people who knew people who were in the military. I noticed that one person came with a model of Air Force One in hand. I teased him asking if he had brought it for comparison and whether he intended to get his money back if it didn’t look like the real thing.


The real thing doesn’t come with President Obama’s signature on the side.

He told me he was holding it so that his son didn’t break it. When President Obama came down the line of people the son got a high five from the President.


The President gets a high five from a young man on his father’s shoulders.

While Dad was providing a fine perch for his son to be able to see everything going on, it was Mom who scored the autograph.


A genuine autograph makes the collectable model Air Force One a very unique and valuable collectible.

According to the pool report on the San Francisco event written by Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal, The President said the U.S. should not be in a “race to the bottom” to strip away protections and rights, and said that the country tried this approach to its detriment, citing the financial system. “It’s not as if we haven’t tried what they’re selling. We have and it didn’t work.”

He said that change is evident in a variety of accomplishments including pay equity, financial regulatory reform, don’t ask don’t tell repeal, bringing all troops home from Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, and health insurance access. “Change is possible. We’ve made change and we’ve made it because of you. So the question is how committed are you going to be to continue this process?”

From San Francisco President Obama was headed to Denver and two more fundraisers.


Air Force One taxiing for take –off.

See Related On Scene with Bill Wilson Archive

Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past seven years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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