Obama’s visit to city worth unpaid bill

The howling was predictable and partisan at the news that Springfield, Ill., officials were no longer actively seeking to get President Barack Obama's campaign to pay a four-year-old, $55,500 bill for police protection and other expenses.

Obama was in town on a very hot August day in 2008 to announce he had chosen then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate on a historic presidential ticket.

Yeah, there's no question about it. The president of the United States, who will spend hundreds of millions on his two presidential campaigns, is stiffing the city that helped put him on the map.

It's poor manners. It's rude. It makes him look like a deadbeat.

It was also worth every penny.

While the city is out $55,500 — or roughly 0.0045 percent of its annual budget — it received publicity worth at least 10 times that from the worldwide audience that saw news coverage online, in print and on television, of the first black nominee of a major party standing outside our most historic building announcing his vice presidential choice.

Regardless of what you think of Obama's record since then — and this page probably views it more favorably than the tens of thousands who flocked to our website from the Drudge Report on Wednesday — would you take that moment back from Springfield? What about the one that preceded it in 2007 when Obama announced he was running?

We wouldn't. And the same goes for any presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat. Illinois is no longer a swing state, so the rare visit by a presidential candidate is valuable publicity that our city would not be otherwise receiving.

It's also worth noting that Obama was the sitting U.S. senator from Illinois at the time and was speaking largely to his constituents. In retrospect, billing him for that may not have been the most polite thing the city could have done, either.

The city, the state and country face tremendous challenges.

This is not one of them.

— The (Springfield, Ill.)

State Journal-Register

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