Large Crowd Expected For Obama Speech At Penn State U.

This story was written by Katharine Lackey, Daily Collegian
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will bring his message of change 200 miles north of Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania State University students Sunday.

Obama will speak at 1:30 Sunday afternoon on the Old Main lawn, and university officials expect 10,000 to 20,000 people to attend.

"He's coming because he wants to have a dialogue with voters across the state about the kind of change we need in Washington," said Matt Lehrich, Obama's Pennsylvania spokesman.

While tickets are not required for the event, an "RSVP" is highly recommended. The event is free and open to the public. To "RSVP," visit Obama's Pennsylvania website at

A limited number of preferred viewing tickets are available at Obama for America headquarters, 224 S. Allen St., from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow. Tickets are also available at the HUB-Robeson Center information desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For some time Friday night, there was at least a 40-minute wait for the tickets.

Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Sunday with other speakers expected beforehand, said Michael Stewart, president of Penn State Students for Barack Obama.

In preparation for the event, a sign-making party will be held for Obama supporters and volunteers at 4 p.m. today at the campaign headquarters, 224 S. Allen St. The campaign will be using the signs at the event.

Stewart said his group is looking for 300 to 400 volunteers to help with the event, adding that anyone who wants to volunteer should attend a training session at 3 p.m. Saturday in 108 Forum.

University spokesman Bill Mahon said preparation and planning is being handled by Obama's advance team, which arrived Tuesday and has been working with Penn State administrators.

"We certainly appreciate the chance to have our students exposed to the people from these campaigns and we hope that between now and November we get more visitors," he said.

Mahon said he estimates between 10,000 to 20,000 audience members based on crowds Obama has drawn at other events.

The last time a presidential candidate visited Penn State and spoke on Old Main's lawn was former President George H. W. Bush during his second campaign, Mahon said, adding that 9,000 to 10,000 people attended the event.

"The lawn was pretty much filled," he said.

Asked about the capacity limit of Old Main lawn, Mahon said he wasn't sure.

"We'll have to screen off certain areas where some of the historic and more at-risk trees are located, and there will have to be some areas screened off for people to walk," he said. "I don't know once you get that all in place, what that might leave you."

The general public is not permitted to bring banners or signs and admittance will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The event is part of Obama's "Road to Change" bus tour across Pennsylvania, which includes a stop in Johnstown tomorrow and Harrisburg on Sunday before concluding Wednesday in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE