President Barack Obama made a whirlwind trip to New York City Tuesday, thanking the FBI and NYPD for their efforts breaking apart a terror plot aimed at the city's subway system this month and offering words of encouragement to Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.
Just days after getting a luke-warm endorsement from the White House, Bill Thompson got a shout-out from the president last night at a fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
"A great city comptroller, our candidate for mayor, my friend Billy Thompson is in the house," Obama announced during the fundraiser.
Earlier today, at the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force in Lower Manhattan, President Obama praised the law enforcement agencies for their arrest of terror suspect Najibullah Zazi last month following coordinated raids in Queens. The FBI had been following Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant and former Queens resident for months before arresting him in his Denver, Co. home September 19. Prosecutors say Zazi learned to make bombs in an al-Qaida training camp and was planning an attack similar to the 2005 London bombing.
President Obama had special praise for the NYPD.
"I particularly want to express my admiration for them," he said. "The level of cooperation and integration is going to be critical for defeating the enemy you face every day," he said.
"The record of your service is written in the attacks that never occur," the president said.
Following the arrest last month, authorities acquired surveillance videos showing Zazi purchasing acetone and hydrogen peroxide--- materials that can be used in bombs--at beauty supply stores. He has been indicted by a Manhattan federal grand jury for conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and is being held in New York without bond.
Obama's visit wasn't just to praise the anti-terror task force. He also sought to drum up financial support for the Democratic National Committee, which hosted a high-dollar fund-raising event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near Columbus Circle. During the $30,400 per couple bash, the president asked donors not just for money, but also a burst of campaign energy to help him get his enormous domestic agenda passed, particularly health care reform.
"It now falls to us," Obama told donors at the event. "I hope that everybody here is willing to recapture that sense of excitement that comes from a big but achievable challenge, not a superficial excitement that comes from election day, but an excitement that comes from knowing we took on something that had to be taken on."
Obama stood to raise as much as $3 million in New York for the DNC as well as an unspecified sum for Bill Owens, the Democrat in a special congressional election in upstate New York.
This trip is sandwiched between two Obama visits to the Garden State, in support of Gov. Jon Corzine.
In the next several days, the president also will campaign for Democrats in New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida.
On Monday, Biden stumped for the incumbent at Middlesex County Community College, attracting both supporters and protesters. On Wednesday, Obama will stump for Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson University, according to the Star-Ledger.