This story was written by Rob Flores, The Mirror
FORT COLLINS - Amid tightened security, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of nearly 50,000 people on Sunday afternoon at the Oval at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
The visit was five days after Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden visited the University of Northern Colorado.
Obama visited Denver Civic Park Center and the CSU campus on Sunday for Early Vote for Change Rallies.
This was Obama's third visit to Colorado since the Democratic National Convention in August.
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Fourth District congressional candidate Democrat Betsey Markey gave speeches before the introduction of Obama to the cheering crowd.
"Obama is the exclamation point on the biggest idea in America," Ritter said. "The idea that if you have a vision, you can someday be president of the United States."
Markey emphasized that change is less than two weeks away.
"Change is not just a word this year - it's an anthem," Markey said. "We have the right to demand better than the leadership we've had over the last eight years."
As Obama got on stage, he was met with cheers from supporters, many of whom had been waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of the senator.
One of those spectators was Karen McWilliams, 50, of Fort Collins, who got in line to see Obama at 8 a.m. She said seeing Obama speak was worth the wait.
"I'm glad I'm getting the opportunity to see a person promoting change and the chance to see him live," McWilliams said.
At the rally, Obama pushed for early voting. Early voting in Colorado runs through Oct. 31.
"I especially want you to vote early if you are voting for me," Obama joked. "If you're voting for the other guy, wait until Nov. 5."
A sizeable portion of Obama's speech focused on the importance of education in America.
"I will not allow countries to out teach us today so they out compete us tomorrow," Obama said. "It is time to provide every American with a world class education."
Obama maintained his position on tax relief for the middle class by promising that people who make less than a quarter million dollars will not see their taxes increase.
"If you make less than a quarter million dollars a year, which includes 98 percent of small business owners - and by the way 99.9 percent of plumbers - then you won't see your taxes increase one single dime," Obama said, referring to the now-famous one-liner uttered by John McCain during the third presidential debate.
Using CSU as an example of renewable energy research, Obama said he would invest $15 billion per year in renewable sources of energy, which would create five million Green jobs that cannot be outsourced to other countries.
Tess Hutchinson, a freshman journalism major at CSU, left satisfied after Obama's speech.
"I thought it was awe-inspiring and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be able to see the future president of the United States speak," Hutchinson said.
President of UNC's chapter of Students for Barack Obama Aaron Fischer, a senior business management and entrepreneurship major, did not make it out to Obama in Fort Collins. But Fischer said he has seen Obama three times and thinks the senator's visit to Colorado is a clear indicator of the importance the state will play in the upcoming election.
"I think it's really cool that Northern Colorado is getting so much attention," Fischer said. "I think it adds to the importance of Colorado as a swing state. We're getting a lot more attention than in past years."