President Barack Obama greets patrons during a stop at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., is at right. (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
The President made an off-the-record stop at Roscoe’s House of Chicken’n Waffles during his recent visit to L.A.
After arriving in LA at about 4:30 PST, then taking Marine One helicopter to a landing zone in Brentwood and driving the empty freeway for a time, the presidential motorcade exited into what looked to be a predominately Latino neighborhood of West Los Angeles for an off-the-record visit to Roscoe’s. Pool had to enter from the rear, to see booths full of early-dining families stretching and craning their necks excitedly to watch President Obama, who already was at the counter ordering for himself and nearby aides, including Valerie Jarrett, Jay Carney, David Plouffe and Marvin Nicholson. With him was Representative Karen Bass, the Democrat who represents the area in the House. Our camera colleagues say the President ordered the No. 9, “Country Boy”–3 wings with choice of waffle, potato salad or French fries ($8.90, according to the menu)–among other things we couldn’t hear. He quickly moved to the cashier.
President Obama, coatless and shirt sleeves rolled up, then walked to one side of the restaurant and greeted the diners in each vinyl-covered booth. After he’d shaken hands and chatted with a young African-American boy who looked to be about 10, and moved on, the boy turned to the white man he was dining with and said, “I’m never going to wash my hand again.” For minutes afterward he continued to hold his left hand aloft, fingers spread, as his eyes followed the President around the room as if in wonder.
It was a diverse crowd. President Obama moved to a second section, posing for cell-phone photos with from one to six diners at a time, and then to a third, larger section to repeat the routine. Pool could not hear all the small talk, but it sounded just so–like small talk. One man with a woman and two children said to them, “He sounds just like he does on TV!” Later the President made his way to their table and the Latina girl of about 12 jumped up with a tablet for him to autograph. As the man (her father?) took a photo, he said, “If you work hard, you can be just like him.”
Earlier, after posing with two young girls while a couple, presumably the parents, took photos, President Obama congratulated the adults for having two beautiful daughters and added, “I’m big on girls.” At the next booth, a Latino man jumped up for a hug–diners nearby applauded — while his female companion just sat there.
The pool was ushered out and onto West Pico Blvd. for a good 10-15 minutes to wait. At one point we could hear chants of “4 more years!” One aide came out with 5 styrofoam food containers, soon another came out with a carton of canned drinks, Pit Bull, and a couple minutes later, after a second round of chants, President Obama and Rep. Bass exited, each holding one plastic and one paper bag of food.
The motorcade traveled a short distance by miles, a longer one by socioeconomic standards, to a mansion in Hancock Park for the first fundraiser, at the home of James and Mai Lassiter.
In describing the visit to Roscoe’s, Rep. Bass spoke to the Sentinel: “It was just awfully amazing. I got a call to show up somewhere and I didn’t know where I was going… but when they invited me to ride in his limousine, in the motorcade through South LA … getting off the freeway, driving up La Brea (Ave.). People were jumping up and down … and you know that people may complain about the traffic in Beverly Hills, I don’t think anyone was complaining about the traffic on La Brea. And then moving out of the limo, walking in to Roscoe’s … we walked in and he (President Obama) said, ‘Hi everybody.’ It was silent for a minute because everybody was so shocked … and Roscoe’s was packed.”
President Obama may have been coming to be on the Tonight Show via a fundraiser in Hancock Park, but his first stop was in the ‘hood.
(the Sentinel staff assisted with this story).