Video by Victor Jacobo
President Barack Obama held a rally Saturday for a reported 18,000 supporters in the rain at Milwaukee’s Summerfest Grounds, with many Marquette students in attendance.
The president used the majority of his stump speech to hammer home policy initiatives he is hoping to accomplish if granted a second term, including investments in alternative energy and increased taxes on Americans making more than $250,000. He also took time to slam Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan for what he called a “you’re on your own” philosophy.
“I don’t think government can solve all of our problems, but I don’t think it’s the source of all our problems,” Obama said to the crowd amidst the rain and wind.
Obama also mentioned the recent attacks in Libya, vowing to bring justice to those who killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Marquette College Democrats, who had been handing out tickets to the rally in the week leading up to it, tweeted before the event that 900 Marquette students would be attending the event, signifying what they call an “enthusiasm gap.”
“The Marquette student body is pretty liberal, pretty democratic,” said Andy Suchorski, Wisconsin College Democrat chair and senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “We will see how many we can get to volunteer, but they are very fired up to reelect the president.”
While Suchorski acknowledged that some of the students who signed up for the event only signed up for a chance to see the president, he believes ‘a vast majority’ of them would consider themselves supporters.
“There is no evidence that the president has a decline (in college support) from 2008,” Suchorski said.
Shannon Rohn, vice-chair of the College Republicans and a fellow senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, disagreed about Marquette having a liberal campus, instead suggesting that the student body is fairly mixed politically.
“I think we are pretty split (politically) from what I would say,” Rohn said. “There may be more active Dems on campus, but (College Republicans) have a pretty good membership. There are people who are Republican who don’t get involved.”
“(Being liberal is) how college students are thought to be, but I feel like there are students who are Republican who don’t talk about it.”
The College Democrats also asked students to sign a pledge to vote for the president and Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin when they signed up to get a ticket through the organization.
Rohn said she is skeptical that all of the students who signed up for a ticket will actually vote for Obama and Baldwin.
“I’m not going to dispute that 900 people went to the event,” Rohn said. “But I know personally how the sign ups were done. You had to go through the College Democrats to get the ticket. I don’t think there are 900 people who agreed to the pledge.”
The rally was Obama’s first visit to Wisconsin in 220 days, as he did not stop in the state during this summer’s recall election.
Suchorski said, though, that the visit showed the president is committed to winning the state in November.
“The nature of rallies is not to swing people but to energize your base and continue momentum,” Surchorski said. “You’ve seen the president gain momentum since the convention, but by him coming here right now you see he takes the state seriously and is not taking anything for granted.”
The latest Marquette Law School poll, released last Wednesday, showed Obama leading Romney in Wisconsin by a 54 to 40 margin. Other polls depicted a closer race but still showed the president with the edge in Wisconsin, with the RealClearPolitics.com average of all recent polls having Obama up by 7.8 points.
Rohn said there is work Republicans need to do to make up that deficit.
“I think we need to have more of a strategy in Wisconsin,” Rohn said. “We definitely need more marketing, we definitely need to be emphasizing how Mitt is like (Wisconsin Gov.) Scott Walker and wants real change. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Other speakers at Saturday’s rally included Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and Congresswoman and current U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin. Green Bay Packers players Jermichael Finley and Desmond Bishop were also in attendance.