While Montclair and the surrounding areas have seen their fair share of celebrities – movie stars and music artists to authors and journalists – residents still get starstruck when the President of the United States rolls through town to say hello. This may be surprising, but it actually happens more often than you’d think. In honor of President’s Day, we’re sharing the various presidents that have visited the Essex County area.
Joe Biden, 2018
(Photo credit: Montclair State University)
President Joe Biden visited the area in 2018 at a rally at Montclair State University in support of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, who was running for New Jersey’s 11th congressional district seat. The former Vice President at the time, Mr. Biden appeared at numerous events throughout the county to support candidates such as this one before the 2018 midterm elections. Little did all the attendees know they would be snapping photos and getting autographs from a future president.
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Barack Obama, 2015
Albeit last minute, Barack Obama led a roundtable discussion followed by delivering a short speech about mass incarceration and prisoner re-entry into communities at Rutgers-Newark’s Center for Law and Justice. Mr. Obama also visited Integrity House in Newark, which is a mental health and addiction treatment facility, to highlight the success of similar programs around the nation with the hopes of expanding to more communities. These visits were a part of the president’s efforts in criminal justice reform.
George W. Bush, 2003
In June of 2003, George W. Bush drove through the city of Orange and then met with the family behind Andrea Foods, a manufacturer of Italian foods, to applaud small business owners for the positive impact on their communities. The then-president discussed tax breaks as a form of relief following the attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, as well as addressing other issues facing local businesses like healthcare and energy. Mr. Bush started and finished his remarks by celebrating folks who believe in the American Dream and do whatever it takes to keep it alive for others.
Bill Clinton, 1999
The 1990s was a period marked by economic prosperity and growth in the U.S. That being said, there were still communities throughout the country excluded from this expansion, and one such community was Newark. Bill Clinton and Al Gore visited Newark as part of a series to America’s New Markets – areas where there were still opportunities for investment and development. Mr. Clinton addressed residents of Newark alongside notable CEOs and partners from the NFL, the MLB, and the NBA at Malcolm X Shabazz High School.
George H.W. Bush, 1992
Prior to the general elections in the fall of 1992, incumbent President George H.W. Bush campaigned for re-election throughout New Jersey. One of his stops included a union hall in Newark, where he was receiving an endorsement from its leaders. He was seen with the likes of then-Governor of New Jersey Tom Kean and shaking hands with visitors throughout his visit.
Ronald Reagan, 1985
In June of 1985, Ronald Reagan proclaimed he was “very happy to meet the people of Bloomfield,” as he stood on the steps of the town’s municipal building. He spoke about the federal tax reforms being proposed by his administration and why it was so important to garner support from the people of the garden state. He touted N.J. Senator at the time, Bill Bradley, as well as Governor Tom Kean, for their success in similar efforts across the state.
John F. Kennedy, 1962
(Photo credit: JFK Library)
In celebration of Columbus Day and in support of N.J. Congressman Pete Rodino, John F. Kennedy spoke to residents at Newark City Hall in 1962. President Kennedy made connections between Columbus’ voyage to the Americas and issues facing society at the time in addition to celebrating contributions made by citizens of Italian descent. He even jokingly claimed an old story often told by his grandfather who used to say their family, the Fitzgeralds, were descendants of the Geraldinis of Venice.