Barack Obama rallies at Pitt
Senator Barack Obama (D–Ill.), Democratic candidate for president, appeared at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday, April 21, hoping to make one last pitch to the people of western Pennsylvania before last Tuesday’s primaries. His efforts did not pay off as his competitor, Senator Hillary Clinton (D–N.Y.), won by a margin of 9.2 percent, earning her 74 delegates to Obama’s 67, according to The New York Times.
The rally, however, included thousands of supporters, all of whom lined up hours before Obama’s speech to get inside and hear what he had to say.
“The enthusiasm was pretty high, there was a lot of excitement. There were many college students, older people, and families — the demographics of the crowd was very diverse,” said Sara Berhie, a first-year economics major who was at the rally.
As the crowd entered the auditorium, the turnout was evident — every seat in the house was filled.
“The Obama rally was at the Peterson Event Center and was much bigger than the Michelle Obama rally. People filled up the stadium seating and there were also people on the floor in front of the podium,” said Quinn Weisman, a first-year biology-psychology major and co-zoning coordinator in Carnegie Mellon Students for Barack Obama.
During his speech, Obama appealed to the working class and students alike.
When speaking to the working class audience, the candidate referred to the influx in job loss, explaining how he believes the answer lies in improving the economy.
“We see it all across Pennsylvania and all across the nation,” Obama said. “Eighty three hundred people lost their jobs in this state at the beginning of this year alone. Two hundred thitty two thousand lost their jobs all across the country.... Yes, we want change.”
Obama addressed also the student population by speaking directly to the issue of increasing expenses for higher education.
“He pointed out the importance of education and how it is the building block of the country and one way he will make it affordable will be to ensure every student a $4000 tax credit towards tuition,” Weisman said.
Obama’s speech included a clear awareness of how each issue needed to be addressed, even citing current legislation and statistics necessary to proceed.
“Millions of people are without health insurance and in risk of losing their homes and 47 million people are without health insurance,” Obama said, using statistics to discuss insurance.
Berhie, who also saw Obama speak a year ago in New Hampshire, explained how the candidate has evolved to provide more tangible evidence for each of his arguments.
“Obama has transitioned. Last year in his speeches he gave his overall feeling of the state of the country; however, now I feel that in his speeches he understands that when he talks about the state of things he brings up specific facts and policies — probably because he has been called out on that before,” Berhie said.
Weisman agreed with Berhie, adding that the Senator’s speech was broad as well as detailed.
“[Obama] was extremely eloquent and touched upon all the issues, which not only pertained to students, but to everyone, young and old. He talked about his position on health care, the war, education, the economy, and also the lack of lobbyists in his campaign,” Weisman said.
Yet, despite this final call for supporters, Obama was still not able to secure the Pennsylvania primary vote.
These results contrasted with the support that Obama seemed to be receiving on college campuses in Pennsylvania.
“I think many college students are dreamers, and that’s why so many of them like Obama. They just feel like Hillary has had too much contact with the whole political scene as it has been known since the Reagan years,” said Jarrett Adams, a first-year information systems major and volunteer for the Hillary Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania.
Obama appealed to the college youth in many of his statements Monday.
“It’s never been easy, but that’s why in this campaign, we talk so much about hope as well as change,” Obama said.
Obama only won seven counties, most in eastern Pennsylvania, while Clinton swept the western Pennsylvania counties, according to the Times.
But even if Clinton continues to bounce back, her future depends on how current Obama supporters will react if she receives the Democratic nomination.
“[Obama] is gathering a college-student and young-person base, and I believe that if Hillary gets the nomination she will definitely have the support of those who are interested in electing a progressive Democrat into office; however, they may be shaken, as for many of them this is their first election,” Adams said.
Even though Clinton took Pennsylvania, millions of votes have yet to be cast, and the race between Clinton and Obama is still close.