BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Air Force One has landed in western New York. President Obama arrived at 10:14 a.m. Thursday. He was greeted by Governor Andrew Cuomo and his daughters, Congressman Brian Higgins and Mayor Byron Brown.
The president quickly entered Ground Force One. En route to UB, the president waved to crowds lining the streets. Western New Yorkers of all ages were there, excited after the president waved to them.
President Barack Obama and the presidential motorcade traveled seven miles to the UB North Campus.
Silvana D’Ettorre is a Grand Island native and a sophomore at the University at Buffalo. D’Ettorre introduced President Obama. President Obama is addressing the crowd of about 6,000 people, taking aim at the escalating cost of higher education.
Obama started his speech Thursday morning saying “Buffalo is on the move.” He credited New York State leaders and local leaders, however mixed up Brian Higgins and Byron Brown’s names causing a stir on social media.
Obama quickly launched into his views for higher education, saying the cost of college is a burden and a barrier for American families. The president said, “higher education cannot be a luxury,” and “this country is only as strong as our next generation.”
President Obama wants to tie financial aid to college performance, starting with publishing new college ratings before the 2015 school year.
During his speech, the president said “even with good jobs, it took Michelle and me a long time to pay off our student loans.”
The president wants college debt to be manageable for college graduates. He also wants graduates to understand their debt and be able to re manage their debt, and he described his pay-as-you earn plan. The president wrapped up his speech saying if you study hard and work hard, you should be rewarded.
The president and his motorcade left the Buffalo area and hopped on the Thruway, heading to Rochester. The president stopped at Magnolia’s Deli and Cafe, in Rochester. He shook hands and spoke with people at the deli.
The State Thruway Authority says drivers should be prepared for temporary closures and slow downs, both Thursday and Friday when he heads from Syracuse to Binghamton. Parts of I-90 will be shut down along with its entrance ramps and rest stops until the president leaves the area.
Truck Driver Timmy King said, “Traffic is gonna back up on the exits and that so it’s gonna put you behind about an hour or so.” Truck Driver Timmy King said, “Just wait it out and be patient. What are you gonna do? You have to protect the president.”
Drivers are being urged to be alert and drive cautiously around the Thruway.