Notable attendees of Obama’s speech

A.J. Atkinson

Lester Lefton, Kent State president

“I am proud that Kent State has served as the location for a presidential visit. We welcome all politicians to express their views in an open and collegial way. It is the free exchange of ideas that makes universities great and, indeed, our country great. Our community welcomed the president warmly and with appropriate respect for the President of the United States.”

Kathleen Clyde, (D) U.S. House of Representatives

“Portage County is a swing county in the swing state. This will keep the election and the president in the minds of the residents of Portage County. It means a lot that he came to personally ask for our votes.

“I really liked his strong message about how we are all in this together versus the Republican strategy that you’re all on your own.”

Evan Gildenblatt, Undergraduate Student Government executive director

“What really caught me the most was the broad appeal of his speech. I was so impressed and so moved by the president reaching out to everyone, everyone in the audience. That says a lot to me. That says the president cares. He cares about us as students and we Ohioans and us Americans.

“I can’t speak to what effect it will have on election day, but what I can speak to is what effect it has on the voters of the places he visits. Many of the people who came today had never seen the President or any other president in their whole lives. It changed the president more into a person. It showed them, yes he cares about us. He has ideas for the future and ideas for us so we can pass along these legacies on to our children.

“It’s a little difficult to do an interview after this because I’m having trouble describing how I’m feeling. I think for the first time in my life, I’ve been rendered speechless. I don’t think my life will be the same after this. I’ve been positively affected by the president’s speech many, many times in the past, and this is a whole new ballgame. I was moved so much at what the president had to say. I was touched by his visit to Kent and have never been more proud to be a student here at Kent State.

Justin Barasky, Sherrod Brown’s communication director

“It’s clear from the president’s speech that he will fight for Ohio’s students and the middle class in his second term. We stand with President Obama’s vision to create jobs for Ohioans and look forward to working with him, as well as Republicans, to move Ohio’s economy forward and continue our recovery.”

Bryan Staul, president of the College Democrats at Kent State

“It was a mass of humanity in the uniform of one cause. It’s really personal to me what he said before getting on the stage. I’m going to take that to my grave. What [Obama] said to me leaving the stage was, ‘Pull your pants up!’

“The President came backstage and tells me to lose the suit. We also talked football with some of the secret service.

“He talked about student issues and also issues that affect everyone. I was glad that it was an all-inclusive speech.

“I’m still expecting to wake up in my bed and find I have to go through the whole event again.

“I think the specific [part] that I liked was selling products with the stamp Made In America. I think personally, with you hearing me talking about my dad in my speech, that’s a big thing. I think that Made In America label is critical to our country, for the global economy, demonstrates pride in our product … that really hit well with me.

“It was one incredible dream.”

Tim Ryan, Janet Esposito, Ron Burbick, Karen Barrett and Andrew Manning were either unable or unwilling to comment.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected].