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Obama Rallies Supporters In Columbus

This story was written by Lindsay Betz, The Lantern
An "O-H" uttered anywhere in Buckeye territory is likely to be met with an enthusiastic "I-O," and this weekend was no exception.

The excitement, however, had nothing to do with football - it was all about Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama is campaigning for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party and, according to the most recent national USA Today/Gallup Poll, is trailing Sen. Hillary Clinton by 29 points.

Obama opened his "Countdown to Change" speech at the Columbus Convention Center Friday morning with "O-H," a greeting appropriate for a crowd composed largely of Ohio State students.

His chant solicited excitement from the audience and prepared them for the remainder of a 40-minute speech that drew continuous cheers from the crowd.

"He's like a rock-star candidate," said Steve Pickett, a sophomore in political science.

He also said it is significant Obama came to Columbus, considering Ohio's primary election is not until March 4.

"Ohio is a very late primary state, so it is probably one of the only chances we're gonna get to see a candidate (in person) and hear them talk ... until the general election," Pickett said.

Amy Ovecka, a sophomore in political science and French, said she thought Obama's speech was honest and straightforward.

"I really enjoy his idealism ... I think he's very refreshing ... and would really be willing to work with people and really make a change in our country," she said.

After receiving an endorsement from Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Obama discussed issues such as health care, the war in Iraq, global warming and the cost of college education.

Although he did not offer specific details about these issues, he did discuss how the country needs a change, specifically from the failures of the current administration.

"I understand that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired," he said.

While emphasizing the need for change, Obama said he is confident in his ability to lead the country, but asked the audience for help in moving the country in a better direction.

"Change in America never happens from the top-down, it happens from the bottom-up," he said.

Citing his opposition to the war in Iraq from the beginning, Obama discussed his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, even if they are unpopular. If elected president, he said he will "bring an end to this war."

His talk of making college education more affordable drew cheers from the audience, as did his statement about offering all Americans a health care plan at least as good as the one members of Congress receive.

Obama also discussed making government more transparent and accessible.

"I want to open up the doors of government again so that the American people can participate and feel like they are determining their own destiny," he said. "That is how this country, our democracy, is supposed to work."

Kyle Stokes, a sophomore in economics, said Obama's speech was persuasive.

"He's really coming around to say that the average person really needs to have a voice," he said. "He's trying to be a representative of the people, not just certain people."

Stokes said he was pleasantly surprised by how many OSU students turned out for the rally, and said Obama recognized how many young people were in the audience and was able to cater his speech appropriately.

"Even if he doesn't win this election ... he's not gonna go away anytime soon," Stokes said. "He's trying to build support for future campaigns and hopefully future office."

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