Pres Obama meets with Church leaders in Utah, Pres Monson skips meeting to preserve his strength for Conference

obama and Church leaders

President Obama made his first trip ever as president to Utah on Thursday. He met with Church leaders and local politicians, but not with President Monson, who is preserving his strength for General Conference

From the Deseret News:

Traffic was cleared before Obama’s motorcade made its way from Hill onto I-15, diverting onto Legacy Parkway and winding back to downtown Salt Lake City just before 9:15 p.m.

Obama met with LDS Church leaders at the hotel, including President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of First Presidency, and Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz said they were expected to talk about the church’s long record of service, including its work on disaster relief and other humanitarian issues, and the need to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

The leaders were also to discuss the need to forge more common ground across differences and to promote service to neighbors, both in the United States and around the world.

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson did not attend the meeting.

“Because of the need to preserve his strength for this weekend’s general conference, it was felt that the logistics of meeting away from church offices, with the walking and the waiting periods associated with a presidential visit, would regrettably not be conducive to President Monson’s participation,” said church spokesman Eric Hawkins.

Hawkins said President Monson remembers fondly his visit to the White House to present Obama with his personal family history in 2009.

President Obama has visited many “red states” in the last few months, and this was his first time in Utah as president.

To see the history of presidential visits to Utah, see this.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

16 thoughts on “Pres Obama meets with Church leaders in Utah, Pres Monson skips meeting to preserve his strength for Conference

  1. I have a hard time seeing how this is a big deal, so not all of the leaders were present, that just happens.

  2. Mr Obama’s preparations for Zion’s Camp reportedly surrounded the Sheraton with dozens of dump trucks. Totally appropriate symbolism.

    I ascribe little import to Church leader’s meetings with political leaders. This is acknowledgement of respect for the office, no tribute to the man filling the expensive suit. I would expect nothing less.

  3. Jim, I am not understanding this statement:

    “Mr Obama’s preparations for Zion’s Camp reportedly surrounded the Sheraton with dozens of dump trucks.”

    Zion’s Camp?

    Dozens of dump trucks?

    Please let us non-Utah people know what you mean by this.

  4. Geoff, thr dump trucks refer to security measures around the hotel. Dump trucks and city buses were parked end to end all around the hotel, presumably as a shield against potential vehicles laden with explosives.

  5. He means that provisional security precautions included blocking off the block on which the Sheraton is located with police cars and traffic barricades on West Temple and 4th South and West Temple and 5th South, and then dump trucks lined bumper to bumper along West Temple between 4th and 5th South and along 400 South between West Temple and 200 W., as well as city buses lined bumper to bumper along 500 South between West Temple and 200 W. The point of this was to create a protective barricade around the hotel. Pretty standard security precautions for a president’s visit.

    No idea what he means by Zion’s Camp.

  6. I don’t see how there is not something to read into this. Pres. Monson obviously is not very pleased with Pres. Obama, but he didn’t want to exactly slap him in the face. This is pretty standard political posturing — send the VP instead of the President because the President has more important things to do. That “more important” is exactly what you can read into this.

    The fact that the “more important” in this case was precisely do take a nap or hang out in the office has to imply something. Do we think Pres. Monson is incapable of waiting 3hours for a presidential visit when he has a subsequent 30-40 hours to “recover” from the stressful waiting in a hotel before meeting with the President?

    Do you think it would be impossible for Pres. Monson to have stayed in that hotel and got a nap until Pres. Obama arrived and then was told the President is waiting for you in conference room 102?

    I see a few possibilities – Pres. Monson’s health and intellectual awareness is perhaps suffering slightly in off-the-cuff type meetings such as this (old age comes to us all, and I’m not implying anything negative of the Prophet), or Pres. Monson doesn’t really care about meeting with this particular President of the United States.

    The latter case begs the question why. I think there are quite a few reasons why Pres. Monson would not want to meet with Pres. Obama.

  7. DQ, or it could just be that he is very old and that taking part in public meetings like this is stressful to his system. I have relatives in their 80s who are incapable of doing something “big” like going to the temple more than once every two weeks because it takes them several days to recover from a temple trip. How could that be? All they do is walk in, change their clothes and go to an endowment session. Well, for these people in their 80s, that in itself is completely exhausting. So, for Pres. Monson, walking around the Sheraton and then sitting and waiting and then being “on” for Pres Obama for an hour might be totally exhausting for him.

  8. DQ, Pres Monson exhibited some slurred speech in the last conference or two. At the last conference, he needed help from his daughter to walk off the stage, and from an assistant/bodyguard during priesthood session. Slurred speech could be an indicator of any of several things including stroke, fatigue, medication, or Alzheimer’s, or even loose dentures.

    It has been rumored that he has or has begun to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s symptoms tends to fade in and out, hour by hour or day by day, until far into its progression.

    I highly doubt the prophet’s absence from the meeting was any kind of snub. Conserving mental and physical energy for 10 hours of meetings, plus all the getting-ready and coming/going is very likely.

    The next senior apostle, Elder Packer, President of the Q12, was also absent. And I would guess that was also for him to conserve energy for the weekend marathon of meetings. He has remainded seated for his conference talks for some time now.

  9. Mr Obama’s arrival at Hill AFB was delayed from the previous scheduled arrival by several hours. His plane did not land until after 8 PM.

    There was no reason for President Monson to accommodate such a tentative schedule. He went home to be in bed following the demands of his own schedule.

    Obviously they’re both busy men, with great demands on their time. It was no slight to send his Counselors. I’m sure they adequately represented President Monson at the informal meeting.

    My arcane reference to “Zion’s Camp” was toward irreverent references that are sometimes sarcastically made about SLC as “Zion”. Little doubt, the original trek through the wilderness of the “Zion’s Camp” was a dramatic contrast with Mr Obama’s posh accommodations at the SLC Sheraton.

    Apologies for Utah insider jokes.

  10. BTW, did anyone catch the story that reporters were snubbed? Apparently they requested to attend the meeting but were locked out.

    It pleases me to imagine flocks of reporters and photographers standing in the hall outside while the important people sat in cushy chairs and chatted. 🙂

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