Obama comes to campus
By William HallalPosted Mar 28, 2012
Crowds lined up at the RPAC plaza to Mirror Lake last Thursday for the chance to see President Obama present a speech on renewable energy at Ohio State.
The Recreational and Physical Activities Center on Ohio State’s campus was the final stop on Obama’s four-state tour to promote his energy plan. Though it was spring break, student presence was made palpable at the event by several “O-H!” cheers. The president took the stage around 4:30 to a tired but noisy crowd.
Obama opened his speech by addressing Ohio State’s place in the March Madness tournament. “A presidential visit isn’t even close to being the biggest thing this weekend,” he joked. He congratulated Ohio on having four teams in the Sweet 16. “No state has ever done that before,” he said.
Addressing public outcry over rising gas prices, Obama claimed that given the U.S.’s oil consumption, “We cannot drill our way out of this problem.” He pushed his “all-of-the-above” strategy with a focus on biodiesel and other forms of “clean energy.”
Obama expressed his wishes to “harness ingenuity on display right here at Ohio State.” A portion of his speech highlighted OSU’s Center for Automotive Research and its Buckeye Bullet, the fastest-moving electric car in the world.
Obama did not mention any of his opponents by name, but he had some criticism for “folks running for a certain office that shall go unnamed.” He called the Republican presidential candidates members of a “flat earth crowd” that would side with the oil industry over the American people.
The president’s signature message of progress was on display in the speech. “Let us focus on our future and not our past,” he said, claiming that innovations in energy will lead us into “a new American century.”
Vijay Gadepally, a Ph.D candidate in electrical and computer engineering who introduced Mr. Obama to the crowd, was happy to see a “great student presence” at the event.
Gadepally, president of the Council of Graduate Students, is a “huge fan” of Mr. Obama.
“He’s done a lot for Ohio, particularly with the Center for Automotive Research,” he said.
Joseph Butso, a first year double-majoring in Korean and business, was grateful for the chance to see the president in person.
“He’s just as real in person as on TV,” he said.
He called attending the speech “an experience every American should have.”
Chineze Okpalaokg, a first year pre-med in international studies, acknowledged the extensive waiting of the event: “It was a very long day,” she said. “[Obama] kept it brief, I really enjoyed that.”
Lucas Perie, a second-year studying political science, was well-aware of the lines he’d face at the event. He arrived at 6 a.m. to ensure his place as the first in line. Perie, who calls himself “Obama’s biggest fan,” employed a strategy to prevent losing his spot. “I’m wearing Depends,” he confided.
Michael Flannagan, another second-year in political science, will be “highly surprised” if Obama is not the victor come November. But, he adds, “he’ll have to work for it.”
“He won Ohio four years ago because of students like us,” he said, “and to win again he’ll have to get us again.”
Flannagan, an Obama supporter, said he also wished to see Republican candidates visit campus. “It’s important to have both voices heard,” he said.