Photo courtesy of Evan Prunty

President Barack Obama speaks on behalf of Hillary Clintonn at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. He encouraged voters to get to the polls early.

 

November 3, 2016

Obama, in a campaign appearance for Clinton, urges people to vote

President Barack Obama visited Cleveland for his last time as president on the morning of Friday, Oct. 14.
This time, however, Obama was campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whom he ran against in the 2008 presidential election.


Obama spoke outside of the Burke Lakefront Airport, where vendors sold “Stronger Together” caps, volunteers with the Clinton campaign urged citizens to vote, and Secret Service agents vetted attendees through metal detectors.


The bulk of Obama’s speech focused on Clinton’s qualities that, in his opinion, render her fit for the presidency. He also strongly encouraged voting. Early voting in Cuyahoga County began on Oct. 12.
“Don’t fall for this easy cynicism that tells you a vote doesn’t matter,” Obama said. “I promise you, your vote counts. Your vote matters.”


In the beginning of the rally, an unidentified man yelled in opposition to Obama, and the president responded with humor, soliciting laughs from the crowd.


“I’ve noticed that this has been happening everywhere,” Obama said, drawing laughs from the crowd. “and I keep on telling folks, ‘You’ve got to organize your own rallies.’ If you’re confident about the other guy, just go to his rallies.”


In addition to discussing the Democratic Party’s platforms like immigration reform, criminal justice reform and combating climate change, Obama denounced the character of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.


“[Trump] doesn’t have the temperament, he doesn’t have the knowledge, [and] he doesn’t seem to have the interest in acquiring the knowledge or the basic honesty that a president needs to have,” Obama said. “That was true before we heard him talking about how he treats women. That was true when he talked about how Muslims are unpatriotic, or when he talked about how Mexicans are rapists, or when he made fun of somebody who was disabled.”


In the week leading up to the second presidential debate, which took place just days before Obama came to Cleveland, The Washington Post published a video of Trump making lewd comments about women, which Obama referred to.


Mitch Lieberth, academic advisor for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at Cleveland State, attended the rally to support Clinton, for whom she has campaigned during this election. She explained that Cuyahoga County plays an important role in influencing the outcome of Ohio’s popular vote.


“The bluer Cuyahoga County goes, the bluer Ohio goes,” Lieberth said. “In 2008 and 2012, Cuyahoga County pushed the election to Obama and that’s obviously what Clinton and Obama are hoping will happen in 2016. As Cuyahoga County goes, the state goes, and so goes the nation.”


Toward the end of Obama’s speech, the crowd erupted in applause, some in tears. Cleveland resident Pat Chilcutt yelled and cried, thanking Obama.


“Everybody can’t be president, but this country, in its own infinite wisdom [and] without knowing, selected somebody that took us over that bridge,” Chilcutt said, referencing the 2008 economic recession.


Her husband, John, said they both cast their votes early for Clinton the day before the rally. They were both motivated by fears of Trump winning the election.


“The important thing is, is that we cannot afford for the country to let this monster get into power and be the face of the most powerful country on Earth,” he said. 


On Nov. 8, millions of registered American voters will elect the next president of the United States, who will take Obama’s seat in the Oval Office.



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