President Obama arrived in Evanston about 12:45 this afternoon for a speech at Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium.
The president traveled by helicopter from a Chicago fundraising event for Gov. Pat Quinn this morning, landing on Northwestern’s lakefill campus.
His motorcade then traveled down Sheridan Road, switching to Foster Street and Orrington Avenue to arrive at the stage entrance of Cahn Auditorium on Emerson Street.
His speech was streamed live online and a replay is available here.
A crowd that police estimated at 100 to 150 protesters gathered down the block and across the street from Cahn at the NU Arch at Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue, out of site of the route used by the president.
Many of the protesters, carrying signs urging the president to “Keep Families Together” were from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and objected to the governments deportation policies. Others had a range of other complaints — from the size of the national debt to the cost of a college education.
But the protesters could be heard by a line of Kellogg Graduate School of Management students — some in their business suits — along with other guests who had managed to snag a ticket to the presidents address — waiting in a line that stretched two blocks to Clark Street to pass through security checks into the auditorium.
State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) was among a number of local elected officials who turned out for the speech.
The president speaking at Cahn Auditorium in an image from the live webcast.
The president’s speech started close to the scheduled 1:15 p.m. time.
He got big applause when he told the audience “In America economic opportunity has never trickled down from the top. It grows from rising opportunities for middle class and working people.”
The president also recounted a series of economic indicators that show the economy doing much better than when he entered office six years ago, but said much more still needs to be done.
He called for more investment in infrastructure improvements, making it easier for first-time home buyers to get loans, continued investment in clean energy technology and provision of high quality preschool for every child.
And, to substantial applause from the largely student audeince, he also called for making it easier to pay off college loans.
He said the nation needs to fix its broken immigration system, invest more in basic research, raise the minimum wage and assure equal pay for women.
With interest in the president’s speech far exceeding the 1,000-seat capacity of Cahn Auditorium, the university set up other locations around campus where students could watch the president on video monitors.
And by 2:15 p.m. his motorcade was speeding back up Sheridan Road past the Kellogg School of Management building where students were waiting to snap mobile phone pictures.
Some spectators said they saw the president wave to the crowd from behind the tinted glass of his car.
By 2:22 p.m. his marine helicopter was taking off from Northwestern’s lakefill campus, heading back go Gary’s airport, where he had arrived in the Chicago area Wednesday evening, and a return flight to Washington.
(Photos by Bill Smith, Charles Bartling and Genie Lemieux-Jordan.)