Thousands Expected At Obama Rally In Sewell Park Tonight

This story was written by Scott Thomas, The University Star
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama is coming to Texas State Wednesday.

He will speak at 9:15 p.m. in Sewell Park. Gates open at 7 p.m. University Drive will close to traffic at C.M. Allen Parkway, Charles Austin Drive and Sessom Drive when gates open. Buses will offer transportation to the event from the stadium and Bobcat Village commuter parking lots.

Courtney Strange, College Democrats president, said attendance is expected to exceed 10,000.

"I first heard it was a possibility Sunday afternoon. It became official around 11 a.m. the next day," Strange said. "I didn't expect this to happen. I thought we had our time. This just shows how important campuses are to this election."

Strange said College Democrats promoted the rally by passing out fliers, creating Facebook groups and contacting outlying colleges and city capitols.

"We want this to be a fun, youthful event," Strange said.

Nicole Dubois, anthropology sophomore, said she is undecided in the election, but Illinois Sen. Obama's speech could influence her opinion.

"This is my first election and I'm stressed out," Dubois said. "I don't want to be an ignorant voter like a lot of people are."

Dubois said she is unsure if the United States is ready for a female leader.

"America is a male-centric society," she said.

Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton have received attention for being the first major black and female candidate, respectively. They have said gender and race are irrelevant - the issues matter.

"I hope he focuses his speech on being inspirational, on things students relate to," Strange said.

Strange said he believes Obama's persona gives the senator an edge in the area.

"He's so inspirational and passionate. He doesn't seem like a politician," Strange said. "He seems like someone who completely believes in what he does."

Obama debated Clinton in Ohio Tuesday. Clinton challenged Obama after she accused him of using dirty political tactics.

"Shame on you Sen. Obama," said Clinton at a rally in Ohio Saturday. "Meet me in Ohio."

According to the Obama campaign, former Texas Gov. Mark White has endorsed the Illinois senator. White cited Obama's plan to provide universal healthcare and his ability to stand up to the special interests in Washington for his endorsement. White's endorsement is the first from a former Texas governor in the election.

Texas State has hosted major political speeches, most recently Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.

"It's amazing, we're probably going to have a senator in a Texas State jacket," Strange said. "This is bigger than anything else we've ever done."
© 2008 The University Star via U-WIRE