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Thousands balk at Obama’s Fort Myers ticket distribution

By Staff | Feb 9, 2009

Thousands of people were frustrated and angry this morning after they did not get tickets to President Barack Obama’s Tuesday visit to Fort Myers.

Rumors ran wild in front of Harborside Event Center that of the announced 1,500 tickets for the event, a mere 500-700 were distributed.

Even some those who camped out all night in front of Harborside were denied the opportunity to see our 43rd President.

Colombus, Ohio resident Marcus Watkins arrived at 11 p.m. Sunday night to snag a place in line.

Watkins could see the ticket window when Harborside officials announced over a loud speaker that all tickets were gone.

“They said some of the tickets were going to members of Congress. They get to see Obama all the time,” Watkins said. “When do I get to see my President? Why give them to Congress? There’s no transerency with this process. It’s pretty bad when you have corruption handing out tickets to see the President.”

Lee County Democratic Chairman Will Prather said he was never given an official number of available tickets.

“I have no knowledge of how many tickets were printed or distributed,” Prather said.

When asked why the President’s visit wasn’t held at a larger venue, like Germain Arena, Prather cited security concerns, and it would take away from the intimacy of the town hall formula.

“This is not a campaign rally. This is an intimate town hall,” Prather said. “Everyone should take a deep breath, we should be honored he has chosen to come here.”

Meanwhile, the White House announced Sunday that President Obama won’t tour Lehigh Acres as had been reported. Prather said he had never been notified of the reported Lehigh side trip.

“Lehigh Acres is not part of the visit,” Prather said. “He will not be touring any areas.”

The President is due in Fort Myers Tuesday at noon to speak to those who were able to obtain tickets to the Harborside Event Center Tuesday morning. Officials said Obama would probably fly out of Fort Myers by 4 p.m.