This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The leader of the free world met Thursday night with several top leaders of the Mormon world.
Shortly after President Barack Obama landed at Hill Air Force Base, he rode by motorcade to Salt Lake City where he had a private meeting at the Sheraton Hotel with Presidents Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency and apostles L. Tom Perry and D. Todd Christofferson.
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said, "The President is pleased to meet with top LDS leaders as so many presidents before him have done."
Schultz said they discussed the church's long record of service, including its work on disaster relief and other humanitarian issues, and the need to fix the broken immigration system.
He added they discussed 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 spokesman Eric Hawkins said LDS President Thomas S. Monson, age 87, skipped a meeting with Obama to preserve his strength for the church's General Conference this weekend.
"President Monson remembers fondly his visit to the White House to present President Obama with his personal family history in 2009. 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," he said.
Obama also met with Gov. Gary Herbert, numerous local Democratic leaders and heads of local federal agencies. On Friday, he is scheduled to speak at Hill Air Force Base about clean energy. That event, however, is closed to the public.
Air Force One touched down at Hill Air Force Base at 8:10 p.m. six years, two months and 13 days after Obama first took office. Utah had been one of only two states that Obama had not yet visited as president. Now only South Dakota remains.
He was greeted there by officials including Gov. Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
After greeting dignitaries, the president headed to the rope line where excited military fans snapped pictures and reached for a presidential handshake.
A teenage boy shouted, "We love you Obama" as the president approached the crowd. Everyone was shooting selfies, including a young girl on her father's shoulders.
Obama's arrival was about two and a half hours later than originally scheduled, because big international events delayed the president's trip.
He spent extra time in Washington to announce a framework agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program to block it from developing atomic weapons. Then he headed for Louisville, Ky., where he gave a speech on the economy.
Herbert rode with the president in the motorcade and talked to him for about a half hour, said Marty Carpenter, the governor's spokesman.
They discussed Medicaid expansion and Herbert's desire for the federal government to cap the state's expenses. They also discussed the public-lands initiative led by Rep. Rob Bishop, which is seeking to define land for federal protections and parcels that could be used for oil and gas development.
"What would be helpful is if the administration would get behind that," said Carpenter. Utah officials worry if that initiative fails, the president may name a new national monument in the state.
The third item Herbert would like to discuss with Obama is payments to rural counties where the land is almost exclusively federally owned.
Carpenter said Herbert called their talk "a good conversation," said the president was receptive to his ideas.
A variety of local Democratic leaders also were invited to meet the president briefly at his hotel. They included Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon, Vice Chairman Josie Valdez, Utah Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, Utah House Minority Leader Brian King and National Committee Woman Patrice Arent.
Arent said, "Even though the president had to be so tired, he was will to take time to talk to everyone. He was so kind."
Latino fans of Obama gathered in Salt Lake City's Liberty Park to send him a message, from afar, to thank him for his efforts to defer deportation of many undocumented immigrants.
"We didn't want to give the Secret Service heartburn by rallying across the street from his hotel," said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah. So they rallied in the park, and hoped the president would hear about it.
"There are more than 400,000 Latinos in Utah, and many have benefited from his efforts" to defer deportation for many, and to keep families together, Yapias said.
As Obama motored to Salt Lake City Thursday night down Instate 215, Legacy Parkway, I-215 and I-80, bridges that crossed the route were all closed temporarily. Many people street corners hoping to get a glimpse of the motorcade.
Lt. Gov. Cox tweeted from the motorcade, "This motorcade is crazy. My apologies to anyone on I-15 in Davis County."
Long lines of buses and dump trucks created a barricade around the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday, where the president was staying. Police and dogs also patrolled the area.
Small crowds circled the hotel, hoping for a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. A little more than 100 people camped at the corner of West Temple and 500 South, saw the 20-car motorcade speed by shortly after 9 p.m.
Among them was Amber Hendrix, from Midvale, who brought her niece and two children.
"It is important to teach our children what patriotism is. I think it has lost its meaning," she said. "I believe in bedtime, but tonight, we'll skip it."
Edith Carcamo of Salt Lake City tried to corral her excited boys Mauricio and Nathan, who said they were Obama supporters who never thought they'd have a chance to see a president drive by.
"I'll tell my future children about this," Mauricio Carcamo said.
Obama traveled most often to Democratic and swing states during his first six years in office a pattern that he has changed dramatically this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In 2015, his travels have increasingly taken him to red states: Idaho, Kansas, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and now this week, Kentucky and Utah. The Journal reports that most of the president's recent speeches about the economy have been in GOP strongholds.
Perhaps it is fitting that Utah was the next-to-last state to be visited by the president. Utah gave him the lowest vote percentage of any state in 2012, just 24.8 percent, when he opposed favorite-son Mitt Romney. Utah also gave Obama a low 34.4 percent of the vote in 2008, third-lowest then among the states.
Obama is the 22nd president to visit Utah while in office. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush visited Utah more than any other president, coming four times including a visit to open the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Three other presidents visited three times while in office: George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and William Howard Taft, according to the book, "When the White House Comes to Zion."
Other presidents who visited Utah while in office include Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
Benjamin Wood and Matt Canham contributed to this report.