Around 15,000 people stood in line on the unseasonably warm and sunny Wednesday to hear President Barack Obama speak at Ohio University just thirteen hours after the second Presidential debate. Most were students at OU, but some traveled hours to show the President that even though this race has been tumultuous, Obama still has a nation that supports and respects him.
“To me, he is the most important political figure in the twenty-first century,” said Ana Hontanilla, a 46-year-old Spanish teacher who drove six hours from Greensboro to see the President. “I would like him to sense that there are people down here that support him.”
Hontanilla was born in Europe and has been in the United States for 20 years. She said most Europeans think Obama is changing the world for the better, like Abe Lincoln did in the nineteenth century, with his progressive thinking in women’s issues and foreign policy.
“I want him to continue to be the moral character on issues relevant to history,” Hontanilla said. “I don’t appreciate Mitt Romney. He thinks rules don’t apply to him.”
Another foreign spectator came to see the President because Obama is a role model to him, and he probably will never get to see him in person again.
Supradeep Kumar is a graduate student at Ohio University from India. He’s not a U.S. citizen, so he can’t vote in November, but he waited almost five hours in line just to hear the sitting President speak.
“He created history by being the first African American President,” Kumar said.
Even though Kumar is not a U.S. citizen, his life is still heavily impacted by the leader of this country.
“Where I come from, if I’m not supported with a tuition waiver, I cannot afford the fees,” Kumar said.
Obama is the reason he can work toward a graduate degree in the United States.
Another foreign graduate student, Manish Kodhawade, supports Obama because he thinks he strives for peace instead of war.
“America’s President needs to be global,” Kodhawade said.
He said he thought there was no reason to be at war with Iraq and fears more unnecessary wars. He said he thinks if Romney is elected, Iran will be next.
The speakers that presented Obama had much of the same sentiments.
“This President has stood up for us, and now, by God, Ohioans are going to stand up for him,” said former governor Ted Strickland.
Though there were many supporters in the crowd, there were still some planning to vote Romney in November.
Stephen Hash, a student at OU, said he considers himself more “fiscally conservative,” and so he supports Romney. But he still waited a few hours to hear the Democratic President speak.
“I respect our President, the leader of our country, regardless of his views,” Hash said.
Obama realized there were still some votes up for grabs, and with a more urgent voice than at his Kent appearance, he asked for everyone’s vote.
“I am not too proud to beg,” Obama said. “I want your vote.”
He focused mostly on Tuesday’s debate in his speech, saying neither Romney’s tax plan nor jobs plan numbers add up.
“Mitt Romney’s trying to sell you a sketchy deal,” Obama said.
Another sketchy deal Obama mentioned was Romney’s debate comment about having “binders full of women” to recruit for his cabinet.
“I don’t know if you were listening last night, but we don’t have to order up binders to find qualified, talented young women to teach [and] start businesses,” Obama said.
Contact Kelsey Misbrener at [email protected]