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Obama visit rattles Corona del Mar

About 170 supporters attended private breakfast fundraiser, while protesters and fans crowded intersections along East Coast Highway.

February 16, 2012|By Mike Reicher

Streets in Shore Cliffs were closed for most of the morning, and traffic on East Coast Highway was blocked at times.

Perhaps the star of the protest was tea partier Nancy Johnson, the 55-year-old owner of Shear Attitude in Lido Village. She rode her painted horse in a revolutionary soldier's outfit, complete with three-pointed hat and a red feather.

Johnson said she was concerned about the president taking away citizens' rights to own weapons.

"He is trying to disarm our country," Johnson said of Obama. "You take away our weapons, you take our freedom away."

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Obama supporter Nadine Hoffman, 53, of Laguna Beach, arrived at 6 a.m., waving an American flag and wearing a jean skirt with a peace patch sewn on.

"I'm here to let everybody know this is not your father's Orange County," Hoffman said, referring to the county's conservative reputation.

Some parents brought their children and grandchildren to the breakfast, said Manly, a Shore Cliffs resident.

Harbor Day School seventh-grader Will O'Connor attended with his mother, SueEllen O'Connor.

"We're all still in shock," she said afterward.

The event was catered by Costa Mesa-based The Golden Truffle. Donors munched on quiche and sipped juice and coffee. As they left, each attendee received a presidential seal sugar cookie from Newport Beach-based Wonderland Bakery.

"But people didn't eat very much," Manly said. "People were nervous."

At Gallo's Italian Deli, manager Bridget Morahan enjoyed the crowds passing by. She said protests kept away her morning regulars, but they brought in new business. The shop opened at 7:30 a.m. instead of the usual 9.

"It was nice to see all the people," she said. "Maybe Corona del Mar needs this, to bring a little excitement."

East Bluff resident Mike Jacobs said he hasn't been politically active since the 1960s, when he walked precincts for Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson. He and his wife, Susan, came to East Coast Highway to protest Obama's "tax and spend" policies, they said.

"We want to preserve our liberty," said the Jacobses, who are in their 70s. "This is an opportunity to express ourselves."

Latika Sethi, an Irvine resident and naturalized citizen originally from India, came to support the president.

"It was really a dream," Sethi, 60, said after the motorcade passed. "People don't realize what it means to be here, to be able to say what you want."

mike.reicher@latimes.com

Twitter: @mreicher

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