Mayor Nutter in D.C.

Inquirer staff writer Marcia Gelbart reports:

For Mayor Nutter, in Washington since the early part of last weekend, today was not "the culmination of a dream, but a tremendous down payment on the dream Dr. King talked about."

After listening to Obama speak from a middle section - Section 11 - with a straight view of the podium, the mayor, in a phone interview, said: "It's a pretty heavy kind of moment when you think about all the things that have happened…

Hundreds of years of history here in the United States, especially for African Americans, and to see someone who has really played by the rules, got a good education, worked hard, did what he needed to do… President Obama demonstrates what a real role model can be for everyone."

To some extent, he said, the president's speech sounded familiar, overlapping with Nutter's own message of "hope in tough times" as Philadelphia struggles with shrinking city revenues. After hearing Obama, he said, "I don't think there should be any more questioning about whether or not we are in an economic crisis."

Besides inaugural events, in the last few days, the mayor said he continued lobbying Congress and new administration officials to deliver dollars from Obama's economic stimulus package directly to cities, rather than states.

He also found time to eat - at The Palm steakhouse in Washington. (Nutter doesn't eat red meat, but said he had "a great piece of salmon.")

Joining him last night were his wife, Lisa, as well as the mayors of Miami, New York and Trenton and their significant others. "It was great talking with those mayors," Nutter said.

But, judging from his voice, it was not as great as when the mayor got to meet California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, also at The Palm. "It's just kind of… It was my first time meeting him… I only 'know' him in movies and TV."

This was Nutter's second time attending a presidential inauguration. The first one was in 1993, following Bill Clinton's election. Asked if the events were similar, he said, "Other than that it was cold, I don’t have a lot of recollection."

The mayor said he will return to Philadelphia tomorrow. Tonight he will attend the Delaware-Pennsylvania Inaugural Ball honoring Vice President Biden.

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