AU students were among the 24,000 who braved the cold to see President Barack Obama at a “get-out-the-vote” rally in Bristow, Va. on Nov. 3.
The rally repeatedly highlighted Planned Parenthood and women’s health issues in an appeal to female voters, a key demographic in the presidential election Nov. 6 against Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.
The crowd became ecstatic when President Bill Clinton walked out on stage. Wearing a brown leather jacket, he spoke in a raspy voice punctuated by coughs.
“As you can see, I have given my voice in the service of my president,” Clinton said.
Obama himself had been captured by Clinton’s oration, bursting out stage right following the speech.
“I had to run up to get here, I was just soaking it all up,” Obama said.
Obama said the election now depends on getting out the vote, so volunteers play a big role.
“As the campaign goes on, we [the party] become less relevant,” he said. “It’s up to the volunteers, if you knock on doors, we’ll win.”
Some AU students followed the president’s call to action by canvassing in Prince William County, Va. earlier that morning, a battleground county in the newly minted swing state.
“I think we visited about 180 houses,” said Philip Scranage, a junior in the School of Public Affairs.
Prince William County is the seventh wealthiest in the country and has grown largely due to military jobs, according to the American Community Survey. Students said much of the area was still split between Romney and Obama.
“It’s all about turnout and boosting numbers in Virginia,” Scranage said.
Obama’s once fired-up youth base also appeared reignited Saturday, with many younger voters volunteering.
“A lot of the people that were canvassing then weren’t old enough to vote in '08," said Amanda Sands, a sophomore in SPA. "I wasn’t in a position to go door to door, so a lot of that energy got pushed today."
Allison Lajeskie, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, organized canvassers this semester with Obama for America in Alexandria, Va. She piled in a car to Bristow last minute with blankets and a couple other AU students, she said.
“Working out of Virginia, it’s about an hour and half each way,” Lajeskie said. “But I feel that working out of the swing states is the best way you can make a difference.”
Among other issues, Lajeskie said that women’s rights prompted her to volunteer for Obama.
“As a woman, I worry about what would happen to my rights if Mitt Romney were to get elected,” she said.