President holds town hall meeting in Baton Rouge

President holds town hall meeting in Baton Rouge

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A lot of eyes were on Baton Rouge thanks to a visit from the commander-in-chief.

President Barack Obama spoke to a packed house at McKinley High School Thursday morning giving a brief speech before opening the floor for a town hall meeting.


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The White House said the president wanted to use this time to engage with Americans about the real progress the American people have made to move the country forward and how we can continue taking action to address the challenges and opportunities in the years ahead.

The president kept his speech short and instead took questions at random from the audience.

He was asked about the environment, healthcare, the criminal justice system, education and other topics.

The president said he would work to find help for one of the Capital City's biggest traffic problems, where I-10 goes down to just one lane coming off the new bridge.

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden pointed out the problem to the president as he rode in a limo with the president and Governor John Bel Edwards Wednesday night from the airport to the hotel. Both Holden and Edwards also attended the event at McKinley High.

Obama, who is a huge basketball fan, also gave a shout out to LSU Basketball star Ben Simmons who was there as well.

The president's day started with a catered breakfast from Louie’s Cafe, a Baton Rouge favorite, as the president's motorcade heading down I-10 in the morning from his hotel off College Drive to McKinley High School. A small portion of the interstate was briefly shut down in both directions during the president's short travel time to the school. 

The president then held that town hall in the school's gym around 10:15 a.m. followed by a Twitter question and answer session.

Obama grabbed lunch to go from Poor Boy Lloyd's, a well-known Baton Rouge po-boy shop on Florida Street, on his way out of town.

His server, Katie Duplantis, said the ordered included two oyster po-boys, boudin balls, red beans and rice, and a roast beef po-boy.

She said she was able to talk to the president for a few minutes and is thrilled.

"I was shaking and sweating a little bit. I was nervous and excited, and it definitely was a great life experience for me," Duplantis said.

The president spent a few minutes greeting people and letting them get their pictures.

After that Obama headed back to the airport to leave. The interstate was closed again around 1 p.m. near downtown to the airport, mostly along I-110. 

Before getting on the plane, he greet the crowd waiting on the tarmac for him He left Baton Rouge around 1 p.m. to head back Washington DC. 

So much goes into making sure a president is safe and comfortable during his trip to any city, but safety crews say the experience is worth it.

"It's the third time I've actually been involved in it. I was there when President Bush came for LSU's graduation speech, and when he came back after the two hurricanes hit us back to back, and this is my third one to be involved in," said Mike Chustz with EBR EMS. "I love it. I wish he'd come once a month. I think maybe it'd get old at that point. But when I sent the email out to find medics to work it, I had an overwhelming response from EMS paramedics that wanted to work it."

Baton Rouge EMS had not one but two ambulance crews traveling as part of the president's motorcade during his time in the Capital City.

One of the ambulances is in case any thing happens to the president on his travels. The other is for anyone else in the motorcade should they need assistance.

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