President Obama’s “Road to Charlotte” Begins at Swing-State Universities
by Joseph Wirth | University of Colorado at Boulder
With the Democratic National Convention next week, President Obama began his “Road to Charlotte” on Tuesday by traveling to Iowa State University in Des Moines, Iowa before ending his day at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Both speeches stressed the importance of getting registered for this year’s election and what is at stake for the middle class and the next generation of Americans this November. Obama stated this decision as the choice of moving forward economically or reverting back to the top-down economic policies of the last decade.
On Colorado State’s Monfort Quad, 13,000 people came to hear President Obama speak, according to Wendy Rich-Goldshmidt the chief of police at CSU. With that many people packed into the large field, there weren’t just young Americans, but a large variety of people.
“He’s such a great speaker,” said Katherine Ray, a project manager and farmer from just outside of Fort Collins prior to the speech. “He’s very inspiring and he just knows how to get right to your heart. The young vote is always important for the Democrats and it’s important when you start voting in college so you continue to vote when you’re older.”
After being introduced by CSU sophomore Haley Damm-Hamblin, President Obama ran out on to the stage in true rockstar fashion as the huge crowd of college students and Coloradans welcomed him with loud cheers that lasted over two minutes. Once the exuberance died down and Obama ended his introduction and shout-outs to the other speakers, Colorado Representative Jared Polis (CO-2) and the Honorable Ken Salazar, the real message of the President’s collegiate journey came out — he is determined to return to Capital Hill for four more years and sustainably develop the nation for its next generation.
“In 70 days, for the first time in many of your lives, you’ll be able to pick a President,” President Obama said. “And the truth is that when you step into that ballot the choice that you make will shape this country, the world and your lives for years to come.”
Obama then questioned whether his adversaries truly have faith in the next generation of Americans:
“They [Republicans] say that if you believed in change four years ago that your faith was misplaced, you were naive, and in my last campaign my adversaries called you ‘The Lost Generation’,” Obama said. “And they hope by telling you these things that they would discourage you because they know that young people came out in big numbers four years ago.”
Throughout the speech, President Obama rarely even mentioned Mitt Romney‘s name, but he did address his critics in general.
“Don’t listen to the critics, don’t listen to the nay-sayers,” said Obama. “Four years ago, we understood that solving our biggest challenges was going to take longer than one year or one term or even one President, but we went ahead and we got started anyway. We know where we needed to go, and we know that we’re going to get there, and we know we are confident that we can move forward and get there because I will lead you!”
When the President did briefly talk about his opponent and GOP’s plan for the next four years, he encouraged his listeners to take their disent to the voting booth.
“Don’t boo, vote,” Obama said.
Obama concluded his speech by reinforcing how important the 2012 election is and how the next generation of Americans are at a crucial crossroads in the shaping of the future of the United States.
“The ultimate question is: Will you choose the path that actually leads to a better future?” Obama challenged. “Now you have the chance to prove the cynics one more time. They’re counting on young people to accept their version of the status quo. So I just want all of you to understand your power. Don’t give it away, not while you’re young.”
President Obama continuously stressed the importance of getting unregistered students to register through gottavote.com and he started a new competition between Colorado State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder called the Rocky Mountain Rumble, which will see which school can get more voters registered by Election Day.
The Rocky Mountain Rumble has already brought generated a buzz at CSU, whose students are confident they’ll have the bragging rights in November.
“I definitely think we have the chance to win,” said Colorado State senior Allison Butler, a human development and family studies major. “I’ve personally registered so many people it’s ridiculous”.
But President Obama is visiting CU on Sunday, so CSU should be prepared for that herd of over 30,000 students to get into gear. CSU sophomore communications major Kaitlyn Schmedeke emphasized the mobilizing effect the President’s speech had on her campus.
“I think today really did have a big impact because of how big the crowd was and the President’s message,” Schmedeke said. “We are the future and I think a lot people my age haven’t been to anything like this before, so they realize that this is a huge event and they do have a chance to change the world.”Joseph Wirth is a Journalism major at the University of Colorado at Boulder.