Updated Thu, Oct 18, 2012 12:30 pm
A crowd of several thousand packed into a gated perimeter on Ohio University’s College Green Wednesday evening to hear President Barack Obama speak during a campaign stop in Athens.
Democratic Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl took the stage first, touting a number of improvements in the Athens area he attributed to the Obama administration’s work over the past four years. Wiehl cited the GoBus and the Nelsonville By-Pass as to major indicators of the president’s work affecting Southeast Ohio.
Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, of Hillel at Ohio University, offered up the event’s invocation after making a brief joke about not having a joke to tell from the previous night’s presidential debate. Leshaw prayed for guidance for leaders and strength for the president as he entered into the remaining 20 days before Election Day.
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland then began to warm up the crowd before President Obama took the stage. Strickland first stumped for Democratic candidates US Senator Sherrod Brown, State Senator Lou Gentile and Ohio Supreme Court Justice, and Ohio University alumna, Yvette McGee Brown.
Turning his attention to Obama, Strickland said the president has been good for Ohio. He touted the stimulus bill as responsible for improvements in Southeast Ohio, cited the auto bailout as improving the economy, mentioned the health care overhaul, the end to the war in Iraq and the abolishment of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
“It's going to be about Ohio. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. No Republican is going to win Ohio this year. So, my friends, it's as simple as this: this president has stood up for us, and now, by God, Ohioans are going to stand up for him," said Strickland.
Following a short intermission, Ohio University College Democrat President Shannon Welch took the podium and encouraged students to volunteer.
“While this is a monumental occasion for Ohio University and the community, our work here is not done. We need to make sure we turn out our fellow Bobcats and friends in this community to vote for President Obama,” said Welch.
Welch then turned the stage over to Obama, who hugged her before addressing the crowd.
“Hello, Ohio,” said Obama, starting his speech on a casual note, mentioning the Ohio University football team’s undefeated record.
“I came here today because I heard you've got a pretty fun football team to watch. Undefeated if I'm not mistaken? A shot at the MAC championship? Maybe a BCS bid? I just want to point out that I was pushing for a playoff system. We've got a playoff system. One more promise kept,” said Obama.
The president then moved into his talking points, encouraging speech goers to vote early at the Athens County Board of Elections, saying “I’m not too proud to beg; I want you to vote.”
Obama spoke for more than a half an hour, outlining differences between himself and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. He touched on taxes, domestic energy development, equal pay for women, education and job growth.
After the crowd reacted negatively to Obama’s summary of Romney’s Five-Point Tax Plan, the president told them, “don’t boo; vote.” It became a refrain throughout Obama’s address.
In his closing remarks, Obama again encouraged those in attendance to reach out to their fellow voters.
“If we win and if you're willing to make some phone calls and knock on some doors with me, we'll win Ohio again. We'll win this election again. We'll finish what we started. We'll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth,” said Obama.
Stay with WOUB News for continuing coverage on Obama's visit to Athens.