Obama Focuses On Hope, Urgent Need For Change

This story was written by Nicole Staples Ingrid Rivera, The Lantern
Despite waiting more than 90 minutes for presidential candidate Barack Obama to arrive, the eager crowd jumped to its feet as the Illinois senator took the stage in St. John Arena Wednesday.

There was no sign of restlessness or disappointment as the crowd exchanged chants of "Ohio" and "Obama" to kill the time.

Barack Obama arrived in Columbus Wednesday morning after debating with rival Hillary Clinton in Cleveland the night before.

With less than a week until the March 4 primary, the senator came to Ohio State in hopes of rallying more votes.

Obama's speech focused on his ongoing theme of hope for America and the need for change.

"I am not running because I think it's somehow owed to me. I am running because of what Dr. King called 'the fierce urgency of now,'" Obama said.

Obama laid out his plan for education in Wednesday's speech, which was met with a positive roar from the students in the crowd.

"Our education system, despite the slogans, leaves millions of children behind unable to compete," he said. "We cannot wait to make college affordable."

Obama said he plans to award every college student with a $4,000 tuition credit every year they are in college. He also wants students to earn the tuition credit by volunteering and working for others.

"Every child is our responsibility... We can provide every child with the best education," Obama said.

Obama also said he wants to set higher standards in American schools, adding "I don't want those higher standards just to be measured by scholastic standardized tests."

During his speech, Obama commented on the political enthusiasm shown by young voters.

"I haven't seen this kind of enthusiasm in my lifetime - the interest people are paying to elections," he said. "They're going to rallies, watching debates... Young people are voting in record numbers."

Ashley Ensor, a senior in anthropology, said she had already made up her mind to vote for Obama before coming to Wednesday's speech.

"I became really interested in Barack when he said he wasn't accepting money from any lobbyists. That was the deciding factor for me between Barack and Hillary," she said.

Ensor, who will graduate from OSU in March, said she plans to become more involved in Obama's campaign after she is finished with school.

"As of now, I've donated some money to his campaign," Ensor said. "I also registered on the Barack Obama Web site."

Sincer Jacob, a volunteer at the Obama rally and student in respiratory therapy, arrived at 6:30 a.m. to help as an usher. Jacob said he is voting for Obama because "we need a big change."

"I'm proud to be in America; I'm just not proud of our government," he said.

Nicole Staples can be reached at staples.25@osu.edu. Ingrid Rivera can be reached at rivera.153@osu.edu.
© 2008 The Lantern via U-WIRE