(PORTLAND, Ore.) — While Mitt Romney was courting votes at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev., President Obama on Tuesday ventured to the Gateway Breakfast House in Portland, Ore., sliding into a restaurant booth for a cup of coffee and an intimate “roundtable discussion” with three retired American service members and veterans of foreign wars.
“How’s it going guys? I just wanted to come by and say thank you,” Obama said as he took a seat in the alcove in the back of the room.
The president explained that he had addressed the VFW gathering on Monday and wanted to hear firsthand about their experiences interacting with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Much of the conversation was out of earshot of traveling press pool members who were allowed to glimpse the encounter inside the bustling breakfast joint.
One of the veterans seated with Obama was overheard asking about a rumor that the administration was backing a pay cut for some members of the National Guard. The president insisted the rumor was “false.”
“So we can clear that one up right away. You’re hearing that from your commander in chief,” Obama said.
The group also discussed access to care for veterans in rural areas, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and care for disabled veterans, according to reporters on the scene.
Obama was in Portland Tuesday on the fourth stop of his three-day western states swing. He attended two fundraisers for his re-election campaign expected to raise a combined $1.2 million. He then headed to Seattle for two evening high-dollar fundraisers at the private home of Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal.
The president will round out his trip Wednesday, flying to New Orleans, where he will attend more campaign events before returning to the White House later in the evening.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
MJ Lee, CNN Politics Reporter
Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune