President Obama greets excited crowd in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE - A crowd of hundreds greeted President Barack Obama with cheers and shouts as he entered McKinley High School Thursday, and the president responded with "Geaux Tigers!"
The president was introduced by Che'dra Joseph, McKinley High School's Student of the Year. The school gym where Obama's post-State of the Union town hall is being held sounded like a school pep rally at times, with loud shouts and cheers for Obama. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office estimated around 1,000 people were in the gym to hear Obama speak.
There were also big cheers for a question about First Lady Michelle Obama running for president. Obama responded "No," to laughs and cheers.
"There are three things that are certain in life," Obama said. "Death, taxes and Michelle is not running for president."
The president also fielded questions about the environment and economy in Louisiana, and brought up recently-inaugurated Governor John Bel Edwards' executive order to expand Medicaid in Louisiana. Jindal had refused to expand Medicaid, saying it would be too costly. But Obama said Edwards' move is a "bold and wise step" and will actually help state finances.
Earlier as hundreds of people stood outside McKinley waiting for the president, more people sat in gridlocked traffic along the interstate system through the city-parish. Authorities shut down I-10 in both directions shortly after 9 a.m. around Old South Baton Rouge. The shutdown backed up traffic in all directions leading through the city-parish, and another again later when the presidential motorcade left around noon.
People along the motorcade route below the interstate were happy to be stuck waiting. More than 100 people in the neighborhood around McKinley stood in the chilly morning air to wait for the motorcade to pass. People held signs which said "Yes We Can" and "We Love You Obama," and some left their cars on the side of the road to walk over for a closer picture of the motorcade and perhaps a glimpse of the commander-in-chief.
Once the president began speaking, those outside the school gathered around cell phones and car radios to listen to his remarks and watch the historic visit.
The president arrived in Baton Rouge Wednesday night as part of his post State of the Union Tour. He was greeted by Governor John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Mayor, Kip Holden. Earlier in the day the president was at the University of Nebraska, where he spoke to a large crowd about the economy and his plan to help working Americans and small businesses.
The president also held a Twitter Q&A at the high school, answering more questions on the #AskObama hashtag about the Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act. Afterwards he took lunch at Poor Boy Lloyd's and greeted crowds there, before heading back to Baton Rouge Regional Airport to fly out for Washington, D. C.