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Obama makes quick trip to Omaha, has lunch at Happy Hollow Club with Warren, Susie Buffett

Obama makes quick trip to Omaha, has lunch at Happy Hollow Club with Warren, Susie Buffett

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Former President Barack Obama popped into Omaha to dine on taco salad with Warren and Susie Buffett at Happy Hollow Club on Sunday. Yes, Warren Buffett picked up the tab.

The lunch lasted about two and a half hours and was Obama’s only stop while in Omaha.

Unlike previous visits, Sunday’s was a low-key affair.

Seated with Obama in a private room at the country club, the Buffetts had Thunderbird salads. Warren Buffett is a member of Happy Hollow.

Susie Buffett declined to comment on the purpose of the get-together, other to say it was not a fundraiser.

“I’m not going to talk about the meeting,” she said. “The three of us ate lunch.”

Since leaving office, Obama has been raising money for his presidential library, but it’s not clear whether that project was discussed Sunday.

Warren Buffett and Obama have a long-standing relationship that has included campaign support and economic policy advice. In 2011, Obama awarded Buffett the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sunday’s quiet visit involved no press corps, no protesters and no hordes of supporters waving “welcome to Obamaha” signs.

That’s in stark contrast to then-President Obama’s last trip to Omaha in January 2016. Days after he delivered his final State of the Union address, Obama spoke at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Baxter Arena to a crowd estimated at 11,000. He also went to the home of a Papillion teacher.

This time around, Obama encountered no such fanfare.

He was escorted to and from the country club by a small motorcade — just four Omaha police cars and four other vehicles. The Omaha stopover was not announced, and there were no public events or living room conversations in Papillion.

Only a handful of Omahans who got wind of the lunch gathered outside the country club to glimpse the former president.

Sandy Griffin, an 18-year-old freshman at UNO, waited in the cold for about an hour.

She said Obama waved and smiled to the group of about 10 people as he left.

“They drove right past us,” she said. “It was really cool.”

Obama was in town about three hours total. Flight logs indicate that he stopped in Omaha on his way from Washington, D.C., to San Jose, California.

The private jet that carried him was an Embraer Legacy 600/650 and belongs to Fly Eagle LLC, a business jet rental company based in Houston. It can hold up to 14 passengers.

The sky was gray and the wind howled when Obama’s motorcade returned to the small airport building that serves private jets on the eastern edge of Eppley Airfield.

Obama spared little time for the harsh Nebraska wind and hustled up the steps of the private jet.

Just after 3:31 p.m., the plane was airborne.

Obama out.

World-Herald staff writers Robynn Tysver and Steve Jordon contributed to this account. 

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