Obama tours Western Illinois

Chris Kaergard

President left his hotel in Davenport this morning, the Hotel Blackhawk, at about 8:43 a.m. CST with small crowds dotting the street as his caravan rolled out of town to catch the exodus on camera. Just one sign could be seen among the crowd before crossing onto Illinois side of the Mississippi River, "Economy at Barack Bottom."

As motorcade moed along Interstate 80 eastbound, passengers in stopped westbound cars stood outside their vehicles getting photos of the traveling bus.

Motorcade traveled along I-74, I-80 and I-88 before exiting onto Illinois-78 in Whiteside County for an impromptu stop at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, IL, passing along the way several signs for farm fields planted with Wyffels Hybrids corn. Obama is set to hold a town hall meeting at 11:30 CST at Wyffels in Atkinson.

Gapers stood in doorways and on front porches as the caravan passed through Morrison before arriving at the fair one minute before 10 a.m. CST. Obama headed off the bus wearing a white button-down shirt with light blue checks and mocha-colored slacks.

He greeted a series of people standing in an exhibit building with pleasantries, "How are you?" "Nice to see you" on this second day of the county fair before heading on to see cows being shown outside the Ed Brandt Dairy Barn, including Ayreshire and brown Swiss cows.

As judging went on behind him, he greeted people who were observing, stopping for several moments to chat with each of them and respond to quiet questions one-on-one. Most were not loud enough to hear from the pool.

Howard Scott, who serves on the county's Fair Board said of Obama's visit, "I think it's great. ... It wouldn't matter whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. I think they need to get out and see the small people."

Obama also posed for pictures with a group of teens and with members of the Fair Board. Between groups, he admitted jokingly to a question from the crowd that he's probably "not the guy to judge" which cattle deserved to win. Of the Fair Board, he asked, "How far ahead do you guys organize" the fair, being told that it's a year-long endeavor.

He then entered the dairy barn for further conversation with people showing their cattle, complimenting several of them that "I'm just impressed you guys are wearing white!"

He emerged about 10:35 CST to greet people in a rope line at the edge of the fairgrounds, but made a brief detour into the first exhibit building for several moments. Then he worked the rope line for 10-15 minutes of shorter conversation, autographs, and giving at least one sports fan a jokingly hard time: "You have Illini, Bulls, Bears, but Green Bay? That's a whole 'nother state!"