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President Barack Obama’s trip across upstate Thursday afternoon detoured to Rochester. He stopped at Magnolia's Deli & Cafe on Park Avenue, where he greeted and posed for pictures with people there.
According to the White House, at the recommendation of Sen. Charles Schumer, the president stopped at the restaurant for lunch with college students and parents to discuss the current cost of a college education and his plan to improve college affordability.
Schumer said Thursday he urged Obama to stop in Rochester during his upstate tour.
“I know firsthand from walking in the Park Avenue Festival every summer that Magnolia’s Deli & Café is one of the most highly recommended eats in Rochester, and the president made a great choice for lunch,” Schumer said in a statement. “But more generally I am glad the president stopped in Rochester, because as the home of some of New York’s premier colleges and universities, it is a great backdrop for his message of college affordability and the necessity of a good college education for middle-class job opportunities. “
The senator said he could not be with Obama during his visit to Rochester because of previously planned family commitments.
“I’m glad he heeded my advice to visit Rochester, which I told him is a prime example of a community that is effectively employing its higher education institutions to reinvent and grow its economy with new high-tech jobs and advanced manufacturing,” Schumer said.
Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards greeted the president at Magnolia's. The mayor said he received some 30 minutes' notice from police.
Richards said he put a plug in for Rochester. In the days leading up to the president's visit, Richards had talked about some federal programs getting scaled back or the subject of pitched budget battles in Washington, yet that were paying big dividends in the city. Those programs range from Community Development Block Grants to money for nutrition initiatives.
"I told the president that some of these programs they are giving him a hard time on work here," Richards said, "and (to) hang in there."
According to pool reporters traveling with the president, among those at Magnolia's was Rochester lawyer Paul MacAuley, who was finishing his cheesecake and stood to shake Obama's hand: "I said, 'Where's Michelle?'”
"Michelle couldn't come," the president responded. "She's got too many things going on, including a new dog."
Obama told one group his new dog is not completely potty trained.
The president also stopped to pose for a picture with 11-year-old Rubi Platt who is in town visiting from Orange County, Calif.
"It was really, really, really cool," she said of meeting Obama.
The president entered the cafe at 1:35 p.m.
Obama began the day in Buffalo, where he appeared at SUNY at Buffalo. He pushed for a new government rating system for colleges that would judge schools on affordability and performance. The system would determine how federal financial aid is distributed. He wants to have the system in place before the 2015 school year.
The White House confirmed Thursday that Obama will spend the evening in Auburn after his speech beginning at 6 p.m. at Henninger High School in Syracuse.
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