PORTLAND – Some people waited for hours Friday outside the Ocean Gateway passenger terminal just to catch a glimpse of the first lady’s entourage as the dark-windowed SUVs rolled by.

Those who had tickets stood in line for security screening and were rewarded when Michelle Obama took the stage.

“I had goose bumps,” Grete Chandler said as she left the afternoon fundraiser. The Portland resident campaigned for President Obama in Maine and Florida in 2008.

“She was warm, expressive and well versed,” Chandler said. “She reminded us that we aren’t here just for ourselves. She said as long as there’s anyone poor, in need or hurting, we’re in this together. The contrast with what we’ve been hearing from the Republican campaigns was striking.”

About 650 people attended the joint fundraiser for the Obama re-election campaign and the National Democratic Committee. They included Nan Sawyer of Portland and Peggy and Paul Wescott of South Portland.

“We came here to tell the first lady and the president to hang in there,” Peggy Wescott said. “Don’t give up when stuff gets tough.”


Many adults brought their children or other young people to the fundraiser. Susan Thompson-Brown of Portland came with her mother, Kathleen Stokes, and her 12-year-old daughter, Eidann Thompson-Brown.

“I’m here to connect with my community and see the first lady,” said Susan Thompson-Brown. “I love and respect her and it’s a great thing to share as a family.”

Jaimie Schwartz of South Portland brought his daughters Ali, 17, and Eliza, 14. “I’m really excited to see the first lady,” Ali Schwartz said. “I love her activism about nutrition and children.”

Denise Altvater and Annette Newell brought several girls from a youth group at the Passamaquoddy Indian reservation at Pleasant Point in Washington County. “We want them to hear what the first lady has to say,” Altvater said.

Bonnie Wright of Cape Elizabeth and Tish Whipple of Portland strolled by the terminal during their lunch hour to check out the scene.

“I’m a real Obama supporter and I think it’s wonderful to have Michelle come to town,” Whipple said. “You can relate to her and she’s chosen causes that mean something, like helping military families.”


The event attracted the attention of many tourists who were visiting the Old Port on the sunny day, including passengers from a cruise ship docked at the terminal, many of whom stood on the deck and waved at the first lady while she spoke.

Angela Khansari, who is on vacation from Orange County, Calif., drove up from Boston with her husband on Friday, hoping to attend the fundraiser. Instead, she stood outside the terminal, waiting to take a photo of the first lady’s entourage.

“I’m going to yell and let her know that I support her and her husband,” Khansari said. “They are so gracious and young and ambitious, and they have done so much to improve the way people around the world view us.”

Some people who were drawn to Friday’s event weren’t so happy with the Obamas. About 40 gathered across the street from the terminal to protest the proposed construction of a 1,600-mile pipeline that would move oil from tar sands being mined in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]


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