President Barack Obama makes campaign stop at Century Village

A crowd of about 400 greeted President Obama at the Century Village clubhouse this evening.

Among the Palm Beach County Democrats presents were West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Jeff Koons and state attorney candidate Dave Aronberg.

The president gave Muoio a shout-out about 6:55 p.m., but he identified her as the mayor of Palm Beach, not West Palm Beach.

Protesters outside of Century Village dispersed after Obama's motorcade passed through the Century Village gates.

During the speech, his campaign released information about how Obama's administration has benefited Palm Beach County, including its contention that:

• Since March 2010 the West Palm Beach area has gained over 5,700 jobs, and the unemployment rate in the West Palm Beach area has dropped by almost 3 points during that time.

• Thanks to Obamacare, in Palm Beach County 28,678 people that find themselves in the Medicare doughnut hole coverage gap have received a discount on their prescription drugs, saving them an average of $662 each so far this year.

• An estimated 11,757 young adults who otherwise would have lacked insurance now have it through their parents' plan in Palm Beach County.

•Air Force One landed at 5:52 p.m. at Palm Beach International Airport, rolling up to the Galaxy Aviation terminal.

At 6:09 p.m. Obama greeted supporters on the tarmac, including Palm Beach County Commissioners Burt Aaronson and Shelley Vana. He worked the rope line set up near the plane, shaking hands with those who came out to see him. By 6:13 p.m., his motorcade departed for Century Village, about a mile away from the airport.

Lorraine Lawal of West Palm Beach was among those waiting to see the President arrival at PBIA. Lawal said she supported Obama in 2008 and supports his bid for re-election. She said she was particularly supportive of the president's affordable health care plan.

"Affordable care is one of the greatest things that America has ever seen. There are so many people who can't go to the doctor. There are so many children with sickle-cell diseases classified as pre-existing conditions, rather than as children," Lawal said. "It has given them relief. Obama has given their parents relief, and that is a great thing."

Between 50 and 60 people gathered in the Galaxy Aviation terminal for the President's scheduled 5:35 p.m. arrival. Residents of central Palm Beach County should expect traffic delays during Thursday evening and Friday morning's rush hours while President Obama makes some campaign stops in suburban West Palm Beach and Manalapan.

Meanwhile, a group of about 20 Mitt Romney supporters gathered at 4 p.m. outside Palm Beach County's Okeechobee branch library near the Century Village to protest President Obama's visit this evening to nearby Century Village.

"I think Obama needs to go," Palm Beach Gardens resident Linda Stoch said. "I think he is a very divisive force in this country."

The Romney group drew both cheers and jeers from passing drivers headed west on Okeechobee Boulevard during rush hour. Many in the group complained about the economy and the job market but several also took aim at the President's health care plan.

"We are here to save the seniors," said Palm Beach County GOP head Sid Dinerstein, who was in the crowd.

"This is the first generation in American history who will be subject to rationed healthcare," he said. "The only hope they have is us."

Lake Worth resident Mary Tulko also criticized the health care plan. "My husband has been laid off and we have no insurance but we still would prefer not to have Obama's rationed, taxed, job-losing health care," she said. "Everybody is going to be at the emergency room trying to get their health care."

West Palm Beach resident Sue Sullivan said she is supporting Mitt Romney because he has the business background to help grow the private sector. Sullivan, who lost her job as a paralegal 22 months ago, said she has been unable to find work and is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.

She held a sign that said, "America needs private sector jobs, Mr. President."

"I believe in the man's business experience," Sullivan said of Romney. "We need a money guy in there and we don't have that."

West Palm Beach resident Scott Austin, 19, said he is also concerned about jobs. He raised a sign that said, "My business is none of Obama's business."

"The fact is, my generation, they can't find any jobs," Austin said. "We aren't better off than four years go."

Obama, on a two-day campaign trip that included a stop early Thursday in Jacksonville, headed for an appearance at the main clubhouse at Century Village. A Palm Beach County Sheriff's helicopter flew overhead.

After the appearance, he is expected to take Dixie Highway to Manalapan, where he will stay at The Ritz-Carlton overnight. Friday he is expected to leave from Palm Beach International Airport about 9:30 a.m. Friday. The presidential motorcade likely will make its way down I-95 from Manalapan to the airport.

After his visit in Palm Beach County, Obama will continue his campaigning in Fort Myers and Orlando.

Obama, who won Florida with 51 percent of the vote in 2008, has been locked in a tight race with Republican Mitt Romney for the state's 29 electoral votes heading into November's national election. But even some Florida polls that give Obama a slight edge have included underwater job approval numbers for the president and a persistent dislike for the federal health care law that has been his signature domestic policy achievement.

As for campaigning and fund-raising in Palm Beach County, both the president and his opponent have been busy lately.

Romney was in town twice in the past four months. In April, he held a $50,000-a-head dinner at the Palm Beach home of investor Gerald Jordan and his wife, Darlene. In May, Romney attended an evening reception at Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton and a $50,000-a-plate dinner at private equity mogul Marc Leder's Boca Raton home.

Obama's most recent visit was in April when he spoke at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton during a day of South Florida campaign fund-raising stops.

He was the second sitting president to visit FAU since Lyndon Johnson spoke at the university's dedication in 1964.

After his visit at FAU, Obama attended a $10,000-a-person fund-raising lunch at the Palm Beach Gardens home of Paula and Hansel Tookes.

First lady Michelle Obama attended a fundraiser in January at the Palm Beach home of Howard and Michele Kessler.

Vice President Joe Biden will be addressing the National Association of Police Officials Monday at The Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan.

Staff writers Alexandra Seltzer and George Bennett contributed to this story.

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