Obama emphasizes trust, social issues during rally

View video coverage of Obama’s visit here

Liz Butterfield
Assistant News Editor

President Barack Obama asked for the trust of a crowd of about 15,000 during a rally in Byrd Park on Oct. 25. Many VCU students were in attendance either to support President Obama’s re-election campaign or to learn more about his stance on issues important to them.

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd of 15,000 at Byrd Park on Oct. 25 during an unseasonably warm fall day. Photo by Christ Conway

Obama’s speech was part of a 48-hour tour of eight swing states, including Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. His voice was noticeably hoarse from what he called an “all-nighter.” The president spoke of a national mission to educate America’s youth and mentioned that he wanted to work with colleges across the nation to cut the growth of tuition in half. The president’s address framed November’s election as a choice based not only on policy, but also on character..

“The most serious issue of any presidential contest … is the issue of trust. Trust matters,” Obama said. “You want to know that whoever’s in the Oval Office is going to fight for you.”

He went on to ask Richmond voters to help him during the home stretch of his bid for a second term.

“If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves with me and work with me, to knock on some doors with me … we’ll win this election,” Obama said.

Chad Luibl, a VCU student, attended the event to support the president’s campaign and felt Obama touched on many issues important to him.

“I thought he was extremely energetic and still carried the passion we saw back in 2008,” said Luibl of the speech. He said he feels more of a connection with Obama than with Romney, and trusts the president to look out for his interests.

“He showed he wanted to work for us, for the middle class,” he said. Although the speech was shorter than expected, Luibl said he still felt motivated to support the campaign.

For some students, the rally was their first time seeing the president speak live. VCU student Denver Supinger was excited to see the president for the first time and found the event stimulating and exciting. Looking forward to hearing about Virginia’s importance in the general election, Supinger believes women’s issues are going to be a major point for the campaign.

“I don’t think any male politician should be making health care decisions for women,” Obama said, addressing women’s reproductive rights, a touchy topic that has been at the forefront of politics in the commonwealth. “You can choose to turn back the clock 50 years for women and immigrants and gays or you can stand up for that basic principle … that we’re all created equal.”

Will Carter, another VCU student, said the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is a big part of this election. Carter also wanted Obama to speak against his Republican opponent Mitt Romney.

“If you can’t remember what you said just a week ago … and you’re worried you might be coming down with a case of ‘Romnesia,’ I want you to know, Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions,” he said, referencing the Obama campaign’s catch phrase for what they claim are Romney’s frequent changes in position.

Some undecided voters attended the rally to get an up-close look at the president’s policies. Student Nicole Steele is an undecided voter who looked forward to hearing Obama’s stance on social issues, but mostly paid attention to evaluating the truthfulness of the president’s promises. She said her vote will depend on “whether or not he is speaking honestly.” Like Carter, access to health care is a major issue for Steele, who said she plans to be a writer.

“Health care is very important because I don’t know if I will be in a position to have a job that would provide health care,”  Steele said. “It’s such a basic thing.”

Steele said she found it somewhat difficult to concentrate on the speakers because of the heat, an unseasonable 80 degrees. More than 30 members of the crowd were carried away by EMTs and treated for heat exhaustion.

Check out a photo gallery of Obama’s visit:
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