The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


August 30, 2012

Clinton native gets chance of a lifetime

Duane Carrier drives in presidential motorcade

CLINTON — Duane Carrier met the President of the United States for the first time two weeks ago.

His next meeting with the president won’t take nearly as long.

Thanks to a friend, Carrier, a former Clinton resident who now resides in Bellevue, drove in President Barack Obama’s motorcade during the president’s stop in Iowa two weeks ago. Carrier will meet Obama again Saturday, per a favor from his friend, when Obama lands in Des Moines for another visit to Iowa, considered by many to be a battleground site.

This time, Carrier will bring his two sons, Justin and Riley, who decided to skip an air show in order to meet Obama.

“The boys are looking forward to Saturday,” said Carrier, a 1984 Clinton High School graduate. “We got a call from my friend, and their eyes lit up and couldn’t believe it. They chose the president over the air show, but we’ll get to see an airplane.”

The Carriers will be at the airport to see Air Force One touching down, and the boys will get to see part of what their father witnessed two weeks ago.

Duane was one of 36 vehicles in the motorcade during Obama’s bus tour from Cedar Rapids to Dubuque on Aug. 15. He drove five people in his van — three photographers, including People Magazine and world-renowned photographer David Burnett, and two Democratic Party staffers.

Knowing any of the conversation in the vehicle is unknown to everyone but those six in the vehicle, since Carrier is sworn to secrecy.

“One of our directions was that we do not speak to them unless they speak to you,” Carrier said. “When they’re in the vehicle, they do their work.”

Carrier, who works at Sethness Products in Clinton, made a phone call Friday before the motorcade, letting organizers know his interest. Officials conducted a background check Saturday and let Carrier know Sunday he would be included in the fleet. By Tuesday, he was in Dubuque for a briefing on driving in the motorcade.

The biggest part of being in the motorcade was mainly following the vehicle in front of him, Carrier said. With Secret Service members showing their weapons and state troopers whizzing by on their motorcycles, the objective was different than an average day on the road.

“We were driving behind suburbans with guys who had guns ready to go,” Carrier said. “It was pretty exciting to watch the whole thing transpire.”

Officials advised Carrier to “tailgate” the car in front of him and that speeds could reach 90 miles per hour.

Also, if something was to happen during the motorcade, Carrier was advised to break rank, and find a safe place to take his passengers.

“It was a phenomenal experience as a plain-folk citizen lucky enough to know someone with the ability to get me in there,” Carrier said.

Carrier, an Independent voter, said one of the highlights was meeting Obama and his wife, Michelle, during the trip. However, not everyone was happy to see the motorcade as some people gave a thumbs down to the motorcade and other messages were sent showing disapproval.

“The night before, I woke up at 2:30 a.m.,” Carrier said. “I was very excited about it since I had never met the President of the United States. I’m kind of an Independent at the moment, and I took this as meeting the President of the United States. It was a moment to say that I got to do this.”

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