PRESIDENT DRAWS THOUSANDS TO FLORIDA TECH
By Ed Pierce // September 10, 2012
Obama Dazzles Enthusiastic Supporters
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Janelle Edwards couldn’t wait for the sun to come up Sunday morning, so she rolled out of bed at 2 a.m. and headed to the campus of Florida Tech to see the man she calls “the most inspirational leader of our time.”
Edwards, 26, is a part-time waitress and college student who stood in line for three hours on Friday for a ticket to see President Barrack Obama give a campaign speech at the Clemente Center.
“He gives me hope for the future,” she said. “It’s not every day that one of your personal heroes visits Brevard County and I wouldn’t miss this for anything in the world.”
Her early morning drive from Rockledge to Melbourne meant Edwards was the 12th person in a long line waiting for the doors to open at 8:30 a.m. for Obama’s speech.
An overflow crowd joined Edwards in packing the Clemente Center to hear the president speak.
Mixed in with a sea of Obama supporters wearing colorful T-shirts and waving “Forward” signs, an army of reporters, photographers, video and television crews and hundreds of national press corps correspondents navigated through metal detectors, police and rescue personnel and representatives of the United States Secret Service to claim a vantage point to hear what the president had to say.
But for the thousands of those who weren’t members of the press, the anticipation of seeing a national figure up close like the president was mind-blowing.
Ira Murray of Palm Bay brought his wife and daughter and said the opportunity was too great to pass up.
“The excitement of coming to see the president and hearing his message to take us into the next four years is why I am here,” Murray said. “It very encouraging to see so many people here today and it makes me think that a lot of people do believe in the change.”
Murray said he hopes the show of support of people from throughout the county to see the president will help him win re-election.
“Looking around here today and seeing all this enthusiasm, I’m confident that he will,” Murray said.
More than 3,500 participants waited outside with Murray for the doors to open and once inside, they chanted “four more years” and swayed to the smooth sounds of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together,” reportedly one of the president’s favorites.
As the moments ticked down to the president taking the podium the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance, stood for the national anthem and bowed their heads as a minister led a prayer to bless the nation and the work of President Obama.
The final speaker to address the crowd prior to the president was Mary Ann French of Melbourne.
She told the audience she is a Republican who will vote for Obama, which drew cheers and applause.
“I voted for him in 2008 and will again,” French said. “I was called by a phone bank last spring and started to think about it and my choice is clear.”
French said Obama’s concern for America’s safety in a dangerous world led her to that conclusion.
“I care very much about national security and he’s doing the right things to help protect us,” she said. “I’m retired from the FBI so I know what I’m talking about. Our president needs your vote to finish the job and move forward.”
When the president took the podium a few minutes before noon, a deafening ovation rose up from those gathered that echoed throughout the building and brought a wide grin to the president’s face.
“I’m so thrilled to be here,” Obama told the crowd. “I am pleased you all came out today because the values we care about are not just Democratic or Republican values, they are American values.”
He said the election as he sees it is not a choice between two different candidates or parties, but two different visions for America.
“I will not pretend that the path we’re on is quick and easy. But our problems can be solved and our problems can be met.” President Barrack Obama
“I believe that if you work hard it will pay off,” Obama said. “I will not pretend that the path we’re on is quick and easy. But our problems can be solved and our problems can be met.”
He touched on many issues during his speech, including healthcare reform, student loan reform, his actions to re-establish the American auto industry, national defense and creating jobs and increasing employment.
“My opponent says all we want to do is run up the debt,” Obama said. “We just don’t want to borrow and spend, we want to make stuff and sell it. The most important thing for the stuff we do sell has three important words on it – ‘Made in the USA.’”
He also said granting tax breaks for millionaires while burdening the middle class as prices on virtually every expense continues to rise makes little sense.
“That’s not who we are,” he said. “That’s not what this country’s about.”
The president drew his largest response when he mentioned issues of women’s reproductive health, saying Republicans want to be able to tell women “what they can or cannot do with their own bodies.”
Some 37 minutes after starting his speech, Obama wrapped it up by asking those in attendance for their help.
“We need you to make some phone calls and knock on some doors and do whatever you can to help,” he said. “If we can all do that, I know we will be successful in November.”
He thanked everyone for turning out as he turned to shake hands of supporters standing nearby while giant speakers blared out Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own.”
Following his speech, two young supporters stood outside the Clemente Center and said their minds were made up long before seeing the president speak as to whom they are voting for.
Brittany Sherman, 18, and Timothy Bovasso, 18, both said they will vote for the president because of his stance on education.
Sherman, who attends Keiser College and lives in Melbourne, said Obama’s student loan reform measures and attempts to make college affordable for those who want to go cemented her decision.
“I feel he is working for me,” Sherman said. “That’s a big reason why I will vote for him.”
Bovasso, who goes to Brevard Community College and lives in Melbourne, said he’s always viewed politics skeptically, but like Sherman, believes in Obama and will cast his vote for him this year.
“As a student I feel he’s working for me,” Bovasso said. “He’s earned my respect and my vote.”