Obama Opens Penn State-area Office

This story was written by Alan DeLevie & Max Graber, Daily Collegian
On Tuesday night, more than 400 people -- including Jay Paterno -- attended the opening of a campaign office for Barack Obama, D-Ill., at 224 S. Allen St. in Collegeville, Pa.

The 2,000-square-foot office was paid for by Obama's national campaign. Penn State Students for Barack Obama was given a room in the office to run its operations.

Nittany Lions quarterback coach Jay Paterno added an air of celebrity to the event by offering his support for Obama.

Organization member Mithun Chaubey, a senior in computer science, said the new office will allow volunteers to work better with the national campaign.

"It's really tremendous how we have such a huge office to work with," Chaubey said. "The main thing is we have a base. ... People were keeping supplies in their houses."

Greg Stewart, co-chair of the local Obama field team, saw a parallel between the Obama campaign and the times when he first got started in politics, comparing Barack Obama to Bobby Kennedy.

"I haven't seen this kind of turnout, especially with young people, in 40 years," he said.

Greg Stewart's son, Mike Stewart, the president of Penn State Students for Barack Obama, also spoke at the event.

"This right here is grassroots. We are grassroots," Mike Stewart said.

Paterno agreed, stressing that college students have the ability to make a difference.

"The biggest myth is that young people don't vote," Paterno said while standing on a chair and speaking to the crowd. "Barack Obama is exploding that myth."

Paterno's speech also addressed his difference from his conservative family.

"They respected my opinion, and I respected their opinion," Paterno said. "They're wrong, but I respect their opinion," he joked.

Paterno also offered an anecdote about a lesson his father taught him. Joe Paterno told his son that when he has kids, his happiness would be defined by his least happy child.

"How can you live in this country where there are parents who deny health care to their children because they couldn't afford it?" Paterno asked. "Their happiness is dependent on their least happy child," adding, "No matter how hard we try, there are children left behind. ... How can that not tear at you?"

Paterno then introduced former Nittany Lion and All-America wide receiver Kenny Jackson, who graduated from Penn State in 1983.

"It doesn't have to do with race or gender; it's change," Jackson said. "Don't be frightened of change, 'cause we all go through it."

While Mike Stewart said he saw the event as a success, he was still looking at the campaign ahead. After the event, campaign volunteers went door-to-door in off-campus apartments for the first time.

"I'm just really excited to see how the first real push to canvass apartments works," Mike Stewart said.
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE