Tampa, Florida - TheWest Tampa Sandwich Shop is a noisy, busy place. But on Monday, right along with the smell of Cuban coffee, excitement over Saturday's surprise presidential visit still lingers in the air.
"Exciting, very happy, very nervous-- a little nervous," said employee Milene Velazquez of the event.
The family-owned restaurant received just 15 minutes notice that President Obama was stopping by for lunch and the Secret Service checked out the whole joint.
"They checked the microwaves, they had the dogs come in, everybody had to go through the metal detector," Yeni Russell the owner's daughter said. "They told us to put away all the knives we use to cut the sandwiches."
And then the President spent about an hour working the room, taking photographs with everyone and leaving a good impression. "Very outgoing... nice guy," says Russell.
And political analysts say that's a recipe for campaign success. "A lot of people think it seems inefficient," says 10 News Analyst Seth McKee. "But campaign ads don't have the same effect as the personal touch and in that respect, you're getting a lot of bang for your buck, if you really meet people on the ground."
Over the weekend, Obama also made similar stops at a sports bar near Orlando and a pizza shop in Fort Pierce. The choice of stops reflects the importance of small-business and economic issues in the presidential race.
While the President may make an impression one-on-one, the recorded and shared photos and video of these stops can reach a wide audience. For example, a photograph was widely distributed of pizza shop ownerScott Van Duzer giving Obama a bear hug and lifting him off the ground. And a moment like that can elevate a campaign too.
McKee says, "An emotional connection like that is invaluable to the President."