MIAMI (CBSMiami) — President Barack Obama arrived in South Florida Thursday to promote an energy strategy that the administration said will reduce dependence on foreign oil in the long term.
President Obama spoke at the University of Miami around 2:30 p.m. and toured the school’s Industrial Assessment Center, which trains students as industrial energy-efficiency experts.
Student Kathryn Kupchik received a special honor to sing the national anthem, but she was a little taken aback when she found out who was the intended audience.
“Well, it’s for the President of the United States, and I said, ‘What!’” Kupchik said.
Obama even managed to play to the home crowd a little by throwing up the hand signal for “the U” before his speech.
Obama’s speech in Coral Gables comes at a time when gas prices are soaring around the nation. Gas prices rose 3.3 cents nationwide overnight to $3.61 a gallon, according to AAA.
The President made his speech in front of hundreds of students who camped out for hours hoping for a chance to get a ticket.
“When I got the ticket, I began to dance, I was like ‘Hey, I got the golden ticket’,” exclaimed student Laronda Doakes.
Doakes is just one of the many UM students with tickets in hand, already waiting to see President Obama.
“I told my mom, I called her like, ‘Mommy, I have the golden ticket!’ She’s like, ‘Laronda what are you talking about?’ I say ‘Mom, I’m gonna see Obama!’ She says ‘Get me pictures, videos, text me if you can because I want to hear all about this’.”
Most of the students waiting to see the President camped out for more than 12 hours for a ticket, including Viodie Douceur.
“He’s the only person I would ever camp out for, because he’s worth it,” said Douceur.
“He has just as much of an impact on my life as my parents do, because he affects the way my parents have to win their life,” said student Eric Nizgretsky.
After the UM speech, Obama attended a fundraising reception at the Biltmore Hotel where most supporters spent at least $1,000.
That was followed by a visit to the Pinecrest home of lawyer Chris Korge, a top fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
A picture with the President at Korge’s home could cost as much as $15,000. The Pinecrest fundraiser was closed to the media, but some supporters spoke to CBS4 News.
“He did mostly questions and answers. He did fine. He did great,” said Mitchell Berger, who was at the fundraiser.
After that, Air Force One ferried him to Orlando for a $30,000-per-person fundraising dinner at the home of NBA star Vince Carter, also known as the originator of “Vincanity.”
This is the 14th time since Barack Obama has traveled to Florida since he became President.