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A Visit With the President

Michelle J. Richard is Assistant to the Associate Publisher and Rights and Publicity Assistant at Beacon Press.

President Barack Obama and Angela Richard
Imagine my surprise this past Sunday afternoon when my mom called me with "I shouldn't be telling you this over the phone but I'm just bursting from the excitement!" replacing her "Hello."

She launched into a detailed back story, and although I had no idea what news she was getting ready to spill, I could feel myself becoming giddy. Fantasies of lottery millions or free island getaway vacations decorated my mind.

"Barack Obama is coming to our house!"

So then I said, ok no really – tell me what’s going on.

Obama Michelle's Dad
President Barack Obama with Joseph Richard
But that was the news. I didn't need the vacation, anyway (although the millions might have been nice). And then it sunk in – Barack Obama. President of the United States. In MY kitchen at home in Columbus, Ohio!


Sometime prior to Obama's Aug. 18th visit to Columbus, the White House got in contact with the state firefighter's union, and requested contact information for a Columbus firefighter who loved his job.

My father, a lieutenant with the Columbus Fire Department, and also an executive member of that particular firefighter’s union, was the immediate first choice. The White House got in contact with my father and let him know that they had him as their tentative choice to host the "Kitchen Table Talk," where Mr. Obama himself would be planted at the kitchen table in my parents' home, discussing politics and economy.

The plans changed, eventually: the President would no longer be in my family's kitchen – they opted to meet with another family – but my parents were still going to be part of a small, select group of local residents in a casual backyard discussion with President Obama.

My parents also happened to have a galley copy of Beacon's soon-to-be released book, Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama's Speeches, from the State House to the White House, which I sent to them a few weeks ago as a gift.

Barack Obama's signature now decorates the front cover of that copy.


Although I don't have a plethora of details on the event, it was an exhilarating day, according to my parents' enthusiastic descriptions; and although I wish they invited me so I could meet The President as well, living vicariously thr ough their pictures and descriptions seems just as nice.