From: Meredith Shiner [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, July 20, 2015 6:18 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP; Allen, Jessica L. EOP
Subject: Pool report 2 -- ADA event in East Room
The president took the stage around 5:33 p.m., with Joe Biden on his right flank, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There were several notable attendees, including those who got direct shoutouts from POTUS in his speech: Labor Secretary Tom Perez, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kansas), former Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), former Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), State Department's special advisor for disability rights Judy Heumann and WH Disability Community Liaison Maria Town.
Your pooler also spotted No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer and Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver.
Of particular note for this Senate-loving pooler, was the large round of applause Harkin received when his name was announced by Obama — which included both vigorous cheers and also many wiggling outstretched hands, the sign language gesture signifying applause. If you remember, Harkin made much of his Senate farewell speech at the end of last year a tribute to the ADA, including signing "I love you" on the Senate floor.
As for Obama's comments themselves, they ran about 15 minutes long, and included hefty praise at the top for President George H.W. Bush who signed the ADA into law. Bush "stood on the South Lawn and declared a new Independence day," he said of the "ground-breaking moment" 25 years ago.
"Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life – schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks — they truly belong to everyone," Obama said, in remarks that should be checked against the transcript. "Millions of Americans with disabilities have had the chance to develop their talents and make their unique contributions to the world. And thanks to them America is stronger and more vibrant. It is a better country because of the ADA."
Perhaps the most personal portion of Obama's speech came at the end, when he talked about his father-in-law Frasor Robinson, who suffered from MS before the ADA passed. It's a story the president has recalled often recently, with the last time in your pooler's memory being the Marc Maron podcast. He discussed the struggles Mr. Robinson had getting dressed for work each morning, that he had to arrive an hour early to Craig's basketball games or Michelle's dance recitals in order to get to his seat before those events started.
Obama said the experience taught him "how important it is for the rest of us to do our part to remove those obstacles."
And that he and Michelle often talk about "how much more he could have done, how much more he could have seen," if the ADA had existed when he was alive.
"That's why this is personal. That's why it's so important for us to remember what this law means," Obama said.
He said he would continue working on disability rights throughout the duration and even after his presidency.
Notably (again also for this Congressional observer-turned-pooler), Obama did not mention the UN Disability Treaty — which has stalled twice in the Senate, blocked by Republicans, even after Dole lobbied his former colleagues for its ratification. The UN Disability Treaty would expand ADA standards internationally.
Political correspondent, Yahoo News