Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012 | 11:40 p.m.
When President Barack Obama’s Air Force One landed at Nellis Air Force Base on Tuesday, Scott Hugelmeyer devised a plan that would make him stand out from the crowd waiting to greet the president.
Waiting with his sister and mother and about 40 Las Vegas-area residents and Air Force personnel on the windy tarmac, he decided he’d fist-bump the president.
Obama descended from Air Force One with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid around 7:25 p.m., fresh off a campaign speech in Reno earlier that day. He will be delivering a campaign speech today focusing on economic policy and his financial plan for the future on Wednesday at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas.
After a brief pause, he walked up to the giddy crowd that had been jockeying for position to take photos of him moments before, and began shaking their hands. Hugelmeyer was ready, or at least he thought he was.
Overcome by the “aura of the president,” he ended up giving Obama a limp-wristed, “dead fish” handshake instead. The president then moved on, continuing to thank all the Air Force personnel in the crowd and making sure to shake everyone’s hands.
“I was so prepared to give him a fist-bump,” Hugelmeyer said. “But right when he came out, you freeze.”
Before Obama made his way to the crowd, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center Commander Gen. Jeffrey Lofgren and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Ellis greeted him off the plane. Lofgren said that on the way down, Obama showed he was well briefed by Reid on the origins of Nellis Air Force Base.
Lofgren said he mentioned the name for whom the base is named after and the origins of the base. The two didn’t have a quiz ready for the president, but it meant a lot to them that he knew what he was talking about.
“It was just great to see the knowledge he gained and his interest in Nellis and our folks here,” Ellis said.
After spending about five minutes with the crowd of supporters, Obama departed from Reid and boarded his helicopter that would take him to his hotel. The president will speak at a grass-roots event Wednesday morning at Canyon Springs High School, where he will address his plan to grow the economy. He is scheduled to leave Las Vegas late Wednesday morning from Nellis.
While Hugelmeyer’s plan to fist-bump the president failed, he and his sister, Ellie Greene, said the experience was more than they expected.
“He really seemed like a nice guy, which I think struck me the most,” Greene said. “He seemed really genuine, which is nice to see a politician who seems like he cares.”