President Obama was a little busy doing something not too unusual for a president when news broke of the shootings at Fort Hood. Obama, in his sixth year in office, had embarked on a quiet fundraising trip that is typically an overlooked event by the press pool who must follow around the commander in chief and report on the seemingly trivial details — but the day in the life of a journalist is a piece of information most Americans may wish they were aware of.
While last night’s trip to Chicago fundraising parties may not have fazed the press pool, the trip gives a different angle of President Obama’s daily agenda; one that Americans following Wednesday’s shooting may be surprised to know was not cut short despite the crisis on a Texas military base.
The president was in Ann Arbor, Mich. Wednesday afternoon, where he discussed the economic benefits of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
His plane then left for Chicago and he arrived at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse shortly after 4:30 p.m. The closed-press roundtable discussion for the Democratic National Committee welcomed 25 supporters who contributed up to $32,400, according to a Democrat official quoted in the pool report.
By 6:36 p.m., the pool reported that the president had been made aware of the shooting at Fort Hood. According to Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary, “The President has been informed of reports of a shooting at Fort Hood. He’ll continue to receive updates on the situation throughout the evening.”
Following the dinner, the president called the press pool inside the steakhouse to deliver remarks about the shooting.
“We’re following it closely. The situation is fluid right now,” said President Obama. “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again.”
The president moved on to the site of the second fundraiser, this one at the Chicago home of two Obama campaign donors. This event hosted about 60 guests who contributed up to $10,000.
The president took the floor, with an apparent nostalgic tone, according to the press report, noting his love for the place that made him into who he has become. He again mentioned that they are monitoring the situation carefully and went on to discuss the economy, its recovery and other mid-year election points.
“We need to hang on the Senate. We need to pick up seats in the House. We need to make sure that the public knows very clearly what is at stake in this election and it’s hard during midterms because Democrats have a tendency to get really excited during presidential years and then during the midterms we go into hibernation.”
By 8:30 p.m. in Chicago, the president and his motorcade left the fundraiser, arrived back at the Soldier Field landing zone and headed onto O’Hare International Airport, boarding the plane just past 9 p.m.
It was then on his flight back to Washington that Obama finally joined a call with members of his national security team from the White House, Department of Defense and FBI to discuss the shooting at Fort Hood. Understandably, the president could not cancel his previously planned events. Furthermore, it is unclear if he was waiting until the flight home to be fully briefed on the Texas situation by officials back in Washington that were still collecting information.