Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Despite the drizzling rain, overcast sky, and bracing winds on an early Tuesday morning, dozens of Swatties joined thousands of people in Chester to see Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. One week before the election, Senator Obama addressed the crowd of 9,000 people to talk about the economic situation in cities like Chester.
Anticipating the popularity of this event, several Swatties arrived several hours early to get a good spot at the outdoors rally. Emily Leach ’12 caught the 7:04 AM bus to Chester and waited a total of four hours to see Senator Obama. However, many Swatties, Chester residents, and other college students found the event worthwhile the long wait and gloomy weather. As Leach explains, “We were definitely physically miserable but mentally stimulated.”
Agreeing with one opening speaker’s remark that the rain was nothing but “liquid sunshine”, the crowd was overwhelming supportive and enthusiastic throughout the entire rally. Eva McKend ‘11 said, “I think that the crowd was unbelievable…People just stood in adoration, drenched but excited. It was really incredible.” This transcendental appeal of Senator Obama’s presidential bid and his proposed policies for change is evident when Obama finally gave his speech promptly at 10 am.
With the crowd’s animated excitement and boisterous chants of “Yes We Can!”, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama strode onto stage and seemed humble by the 9000-strong size of the crowd that was waiting for him in midst of the pouring rain. Obama says, “This is an unbelievable crowd for this kind of weather. If we see this kind of dedication on election day, there is no way that we are not going to bring change to America.”
Senator Obama focused on addressing the needs of the working class in Chester and similar cities weakened by the adverse economy. He commented that Bush administration’s failed to provide economic stability and prosperity equally in targeting the wealthiest individuals. Obama claimed, “This campaign is…about Americans losing their homes, their jobs, their healthcare plans, and their pensions. I can take another 7 days of attacks from John McCain but the American people can’t take the same economic policies that have been in place for the past 8 years.”
Obama’s speech highlighted the power of the individual voters uniting to bring change to America. “I believe that the American people are a decent people, a generous people, willing to work hard…I am convinced that if all of us came together, black, white, Hispanic, Asian-American…our voices will become more powerful than the most entrenched lobbyist and biggest corporation,” Obama said.
Obama emphasized his faith in the American people to bring about the change needed in America. “I believe that deep down inside each of us, we can do better than we are doing right now. There are better days ahead…if we are willing to reach down deep inside us when times are tough, when its cold, when its raining, that’s when we stand up and reach for a better future…if all of you are determined to bring about a better America, then I promise you this: We will not just win Pennsylvania, we will win this general election and, you and I together, we are going to change this country and change the world.”
While Obama did not offer new proposals, Swarthmore students still found his speech invigorating and reaffirming in their decision to support him. McKend explains, “I’ve seen Barack’s stump speech quite a few times but am always humbled by his sense of hope and excited for the possibilities.”
At the end of the day, after students filed into the van shuttles and buses, retreated from the blustery weather, and changed into warm, dry clothes, they took away a feeling of contentment and sense of satisfaction in seeing the next potential President of the United States.