Air Force One touched down right on time Wednesday morning, just before 11:00am at Memphis International Airport, to attend a fundraiser for senate GOP hopeful Bob Corker. With a wave of a hand, the President stepped off the plane and shook hands with supporters, including Corker.
Although the President's main mission was to raise money for the Corker campaign, he also took time to recognize the volunteer efforts of Memphian Linda Smith.
"He is the leader of the free world," Smith said. "To be able to shake the hand of the leader of the free world is just a surreal feeling. He was very personable and very kind, and it was like you were meeting your father or something."
Smith seized the opportunity to ask the President for a favor.
"My son jokingly said when he comes down ask him if you can see the airplane. So he goes, 'Is there anything I can do for you today?' and I said, 'Well, I'd love to get on Air Force One." The President asked an aid to give her a tour.
Not all Memphians greeted the President warmly. At the corner of Poplar and Yates, not far from the fundraiser luncheon, members of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center protested US involvement in the war in Iraq.
"We're here because we are among the thousands and thousands of Memphians who do not want to pay $2,100 to break bread with a man who insists on bank rolling a war in Iraq," said protestor Ceylon Mooney.
Still, hundreds of people did pay, and as President Bush left for Washington, officials estimated his appearance at the Corker fundraiser generated close to $800,000. Officials estimated Bush's visit would ultimately cost the city not more than $2,500.
It was not the President's only planned dinner of the day. Wednesday evening he was scheduled to dine with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan.