Pitt Obama Rally A Hoax

This story was written by Katelyn Polantz, The Pitt News
Barack Obama, as of Sunday, was thought to be coming to Pitt.

But he's not - yet.

The senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential hopeful was rumored to have planned a rally at the Petersen Events Center March 28, according to posts on the my.barackobama.com campaign Web site and the gossip website juicycampus.com, fliers hung in and around David Lawrence Hall and an event profile on Facebook.

The Obama campaign said no rally is planned yet, and the information was removed from the open-source Obama Web site Sunday.

"The campaign is aware of reports advertising a March 28 campaign appearance by Sen. Obama at the Petersen Events Center. Those reports are unfounded," said Clifford Levine, the head of the Western Pennsylvania steering committee for the Obama campaign.

The posts on Facebook and on the campaign website were attributed to Dan Gore, a Pitt sophomore. He is also the head of the Pitt chapter of Students for Barack Obama, an official youth wing of the campaign but not a registered student organization at Pitt.

Gore denies circulating the information of an Obama rally, and he says he is not the "Dan Gore" Facebook user who created the event. The two profiles on Facebook named "Dan Gore" match by way of profile pictures only - when Gore changed his profile photo on Facebook yesterday afternoon and then removed it last evening, the other "Dan Gore" followed suit.

Dan Gore of Students for Barack Obama is in the Pitt network on Facebook and has an active friend network and profile, whereas "Dan Gore" who created the event is in the Pittsburgh, Pa., network and has no Facebook friends as of last night.

"This is absolutely fictitious, it's subverting my name," Gore said. "This is scandalous."

He claimed he had posted comments three times on the Facebook event's wall after learning of the situation, and the posts were deleted

Members of The Pitt News staff have requested Facebook friendship with the friendless "Dan Gore," and the requests were pending as of press time.

The fliers for the faux rally, which don't list Gore as a contact, say the "Stand for Change" rally will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. March 28, and that 5,000 tickets for students will be available today at 3 p.m. in the William Pitt Union ticket office.

John Fedele, Pitt spokesman, said the University has no knowledge of the ticket distribution or of a planned event.

Lissa Geiger, president of College Democrats, also denies that any event is confirmed.

"I don't know who started it, but we're going to do our best to get rid of the rumor. I can say with confidence that it's no one in the College Dems' leadership," she said. "The College Democrats and Students for Barack Obama are working together to bring Sen. Obama as well as Sen. Clinton to campus."

With four states' primary elections or caucuses happening tomorrow, Pennsylvania could be in a deciding position for the campaigns of Obama and his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic presidential primary race.

Obama has won 11 consecutive state primaries, and Pennsylvania will stand alone as the last state primary before the Democratic National Convention in August. The Pennsylvania primary election will be conducted April 22.

Levine of the Obama campaign said after tomorrow's primaries, Obama's focus will turn to Pennsylvania, including the Pittsburgh area.

"The Petersen Events Center would be an ideal venue for a candidate of Sen. Obama's appeal, and we are exploring the availability of the Petersen Events Center. But as of today, any advertisement for a specific date is inaccurate," he said.

The Clinton campaign has nothing officially scheduled yet, either.

"I ave no idea if we'll be having an event at Pitt," said Stephanie Rex, the Clinton campaign's volunteer coordinator for the region. "But this is an exciting time."
© 2008 The Pitt News via U-WIRE