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The McLean Ear: Inside the Joint Presidential Visit to McLean

We Hear to Tell

President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton paid an historic visit to McLean Sunday afternoon but they came and went with little fuss and fanfare.

They came to mingle at a fundraiser with an estimated 600 supporters who had paid anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 to meet them in the backyard of the McLean home Terry McAuliffe, one of Clinton's good friends.

Driving by the McAuliffe home Sunday, there was little indication that two presidents were visiting. There was a large van across the driveway and several large men. About a half dozen Fairfax County police officers gathered about a half a mile up the street.

Here's what McLean neighbors who attended the party said they saw and heard:

First, they saw few McLean neighbors. (See list below.) The Obama campaign sent out an invitation that drew supporters from Bethesda, Reston, Crystal City, Richmond and Charlottesville. Many said they came because of the special opportunity to see two presidents in the coziness of a private home.

The guests gathered in the parking lot of St. Luke's Catholic Church on Georgetown Pike. There they went through security checks and boarded shuttle buses that took them to the McAuliffe home. As they got off the shuttle bus each was given a colored band which designated their contribution level.

They were then escorted to the backyard with perfect spring weather. A white tent stood at the end near the entrance to the house. Waiters served wine or water. There was several round tables ladened with sliders, veggies, cheese, pita chips and more.

The event had the atmosphere of a lively garden party with very enthusiastic and excited guests.

Most of the guests arrived by 3:30 p.m. The President arrived about 5:15 p.m. in a large, but quiet motorcade. He had just spent five hours on the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base.

Dorothy McAuliffe was her usual unflappable self, gracious and welcoming to everyone. Her husband made his way through the crowd and greeted many of the attendees personally, posing for photos and thanking everyone for coming.

The speeches started at 6 p.m., with McAuliffe introducing Clinton. Clinton introduced the Obama. The presidents spoke without notes recounting the accomplishments of the past four years making the case for the President's reelection.

Four of the five McAuliffe children attended the party hosted by their parents Dorothy and Terry McAuliffe. The oldest Jack, attends the U.S. Naval Academy.

The President told him, "Jack, we could not be prouder of you. You look sharp in whites, man."

McLean resident Pam Danner said the President then talked about his administration’s foreign policy successes: ending the war in Iraq, killing Osama Bin Laden and beginning the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

"This certainly struck a cord with me since my daughter, Constance, is also serving in the Navy," she said.

After about 30 minutes of speeches, it was time for dinner with the estimated 80 people who had paid $20,000 to $25,000 for the privilege of dining with two presidents.

About eight to nine tables seating 10 people each were set up inside the McAuliffe home. The other guests departed in the shuttle buses.

McLean neighbors spotted in the crowd were included Jeff and Katherine Barnett, Greg Brandon, Wes and Patricia Callender, Pam Danner, Leslie and Jeff Mason, Jane and Jim Edmondson, Chad Quinn and Margi and Bob Vanderhye and her husband. Also Virginia Dels. Mark Keam and Charniele Herring.

The President introduced the Virginia politicians who attended, including former Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for the U.S. Senate. "I love Tim Kaine. One of the finest men I know.  And just a great friend and was a great governor here, obviously," the President said.
 
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th District, also attended.

"And I need to acknowledge, because some of you know I am a former state senator, so I never pass up the chance to introduce state senators, Barbara Favola is here, and this is her district, and we love state senators, " the President.

Also spotted in the audience was Cesar del Aguila, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Party.

"Well, you guys get two Presidents for one out of this event, which is a pretty good deal," the President told the crowd of supporters. They agreed.

The McLean Party was the first of four joint fundraising appearances scheduled for the two presidents. One will be in New York and one in Los Angeles (read Hollywood) and a fourth location will be named later.

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