Obama Campaign Plane Diverted, NC Visit Postponed
Updated 2:30 p.m.
By Anne E. Kornblut
CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Sen. Barack Obama's campaign plane was diverted to St. Louis after the pilot noticed mechanical irregularities after taking off from Chicago.
The unscheduled stop en route to North Carolina was a "minor and precautionary" step, campaign spokeswoman Linda Douglass said.
"An emergency slide located in the tail cone of the plane deployed in flight," Midwest Airlines explained in a statement this afternoon. "While there was never an issue as to the safety of the flight, as a precautionary measure, we decided to divert the plane to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, where it landed just before 10 a.m. CDT. We are in the process of making alternative travel arrangements for Senator Obama and his campaign."
Obama's planned visit to Charlotte today, where he was supposed to kick off a week of events on "economic security," has been postponed.
Obama is now expected to deliver his remarks on the economy at an ad hoc location in St. Louis, possibly only to the press corps. He has not so far canceled his fundraising events in Atlanta, and is expected to head there directly from St. Louis later today.
In his stead in Charlotte, several Democratic candidates spoke. Kay Hagan, who is running to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Dole, made fun of the incumbent as a carpetbagger whom she invited to "click her heels three times and go home to Kansas with Bob."
Obama is expected to call in to the event.
Obama ventured back to chat with reporters after the stop in St. Louis, according to a transcript shared by a traveling aide.
BO: Just thought we would spice things up a little bit today. Don't you think?
Q: Were you frightened? Were you worried?
BO: Well, you know, anytime a pilot says something's not working the way it's supposed to you make sure you tighten your seat belt.
Q: You got a little nervous?
BO: Everything seemed under control. The pilots knew what they were doing.
Q: Did you ever have to do this before? A sort of unscheduled landing on your charter?
BO: Not yet, so this is a first.
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