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Michelle Obama visits Utah

By Lisa Riley Roche | Posted - Jul. 26, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

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PARK CITY — First lady Michelle Obama arrived in Utah this morning to host a quick fundraiser for her husband's re-election campaign at a private home.

She did not make any public appearances before leaving the state early in the afternoon for another campaign event in Aspen, Colo., on her way home to Washington, D.C.

The fundraiser for President Barack Obama was held at the home of Mark Gilbert, a major Democratic fundraiser who served on Obama's 2008 finance committee.

Gilbert helped convince then-candidate Obama to visit Utah in August 2007 for a fundraiser. The now-president also appeared then at an impromptu campaign rally at Kimball Junction.

Entrance to The Colony at White Pine, a private community where Michelle Obama will attend a private breakfast fundraiser.
Entrance to The Colony at White Pine, a private community where Michelle Obama will attend a private breakfast fundraiser. (Photo: Shara Park, KSL)

The first lady campaigned in Utah for her husband in February 2008. Then, she spoke to supporters at the Salt Palace and met with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said the first lady wowed the crowd at the fundraiser, telling them she hopes to return to Utah soon with time for a public appearance and another meeting with LDS Church leaders.

"She comes off as astonishing," Dabakis said.

About 200 people attended today's fundraiser, paying at least $1,000. Contributors were urged to give well beyond the $5,000 federal campaign contribution limit, to help the Democratic National Committee and other organizations.

Former USA Olympic bobsledder Ivan Radcliff, now a neighbor and friend of Gilbert, was among the contributors. He said it was the first time he'd given to a political campaign.

"I've very excited to be able to meet the first lady," Radcliff told reporters before headed up to the gated community where the event was being held.

He said he didn't have any particular message for Michele Obama. "Just to be able to say hello and get a handshake is going to be awesome," Radcliff said.

The Gilbert home is located in the exclusive Colony at White Pine development near the Canyons Ski Resort. Guests were ushered through a gate next to a man-made waterfall into the private community.

Just to be able to say hello and get a handshake is going to be awesome.

–- Ivan Radcliff

A motorcade arrived just before 9:15 a.m. off state Route 224 and headed up towards the event. But instead of the first lady, police were escorting about a dozen children from the Christian Center of Park City.

The children were lining up just outside the gated community to wave to the first lady. The center sponsored an event earlier today marking Michelle Obama's efforts to curb childhood obesity.

The first lady, who was almost two hours behind schedule, drove quickly past the children in her own motorcade about 11:15 a.m. to join the fundraising participants, who'd already been there for several hours.

Another, smaller group of area residents gathered at the turnoff off state Route 224 tried to get a glimpse of the first lady as the motorcade whipped by. She was not visible behind the tinted windows of the vehicles, however.

"I understand. It's a security thing," retired paralegal Sue Razzetti said. She spotted the news media gathered for the event earlier in the morning and returned with a flag to wave.

"I just wanted to be here to show my support, and that I'm with her and the president all the way," Razzetti, a Park City resident, said.


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