AMHERST — Residents here received a surprise Thursday when President Barack Obama made an unannounced visit to Ziggy’s Pub and Restaurant.
Bar owner Larry Niehart said he found out Obama was visiting 15 minutes before he arrived but said White House staff had reportedly stopped in Amherst on Monday to map out the area. The stop was part of Obama’s two-day campaign tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, which included stops in Sandusky and Parma.
Niehart said Ziggy’s was full of patrons when Obama visited. Hundreds more crowded the streets, trying to gain a glimpse of the president.
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Jackie Longwell visited Amherst on Thursday with her grandson, Carson Benton. Longwell suffers from fibromyalgia, a medical disorder characterized by chronic, widespread pain. Because of her pre-existing condition, Longwell said she could not obtain affordable health care. She said she expects the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, Obama’s health care law, will allow her to gain affordable coverage.
The Affordable Care Act is dubbed “ObamaCare” by its opponents, including Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who has said he will repeal the law if elected.
Ziggy’s patrons reportedly shared a beer with Obama, who drank Miller Lite and ordered wings, ribs and pizza to go.
Niehart said Obama spoke with everyone at the bar and took pictures.
“He was a very nice guy,” he said.
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Matt Gibson, a patron of the bar, said the president even bought him a beer and shared a toast.
Manager Sam Davis said Obama’s visit would likely draw a crowd at the bar, as many bystanders stopped in for a drink or some food. Davis said there was some buzz about the president possibly stopping, but she said she was unaware that Ziggy’s would be a stop.
Not everyone was pleased with the president’s visit, however.
Austyn Pember stood outside Ziggy’s to protest the arrival of Obama. Pember, a computer science and engineering major at the University of Toledo, said he is not a supporter of Obama or Romney.
“Obama is a dictator, or at least the presidency is,” he said.
Pember, armed with a GoPro camera and fliers, said he follows the website www.infowars.com and came to Amherst on Thursday to pass out fliers and speak out in protest of the current government.
Pember said he received mixed reactions from passersby.
“They said I should be arrested. They said I was disgraceful,” he said.
He said some people had shown support and offered to join the cause, however. Pember even received some surprise acknowledgement.
“Obama pointed at me and waved and was smiling,” he said. “I’m pretty impressed with what happened.”
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