Iowans React To Presidential Visit
Dakota Digest - 09/04/2012
By Kealey Bultena
The president of the United States spent part of Labor Day weekend just across the border from South Dakota. President Barack Obama made a stop in Sioux City, Iowa as part of his Road to Charlotte tour for the Democratic National Convention.
President Barack Obama hops onto the podium to deafening cheers about 45 minutes before the crowd expects him.
"And it was important for me to begin that journey right here in Iowa, because this is where it all began four years ago," Mr. Obama says.
The scene at Morningside College is beyond picturesque. The warm glow from the sinking sun illuminates the crowd and brightens colors. Red, white and blue banners flutter in the calm breeze. Vivid green leaves sway effortlessly. The Commander in Chief stands at a lecturn flanked by Iowa’s flag and the Star Spangled Banner.
"And we believe in an America where no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can pursue your own happiness, and you can make it if you try," Mr. Obama says.
The crowd goes crazy, and one high-pitched hoot belongs to Tymmrie Rath. She’s a college student at Morningside, and she passionately shakes her Obama sign that says "Forward". Before the president arrives, she’s surging with energy. Rath says Mr. Obama needs to cover a range of topics to connect with people in Iowa.
"I would say he needs to make sure and let them know what he’s going to do for education. That’s a big part of Sioux City – who’s going to school and why. I would say he needs to let them know about what he’s doing for welfare, because that’s a big uncertainty right now, Medicare," Rath says. "But again people who are here pretty much know it."
That appears to be true. People at the Obama rally are vocal and enthusiastic Obama fans. Pam Barry is from Sioux City.
"I’m here to support the president. He’s doing a great job. I’m very proud of everything he’s done; he’s kind of kept us on the straight and narrow. I know some people that that’s maybe not a high enough straight and narrow, but it’s pretty good," Barry says. "I think we didn’t fall into a great depression because of him, so we’re here to support him."
Barry says Mr. Obama is no stranger to Iowa, and she’s happy to welcome him back. The rest of the crowd agrees. 2,800 people listen and erupt in cheers as the president touches on overseas troops and tax reform and Medicare. He tows the party line, speaking about reforms and ideas that benefit hard-working, middle class families like Sara Beahler’s.
"I have an unemployed spouse, and we own a small business, and three teenagers heading to college," Beahler says. "So we are right there with everything that he talks about."
Beahler lives in Sheldon, Iowa. She says her kids’ health coverage disappeared when her husband lost his job earlier this year, and they’re covered by the Affordable Care Act. Beahler says that helps her sleep at night.
Young mom Kati Baker says she, too, thanks the president for health care assistance.
"I’m pregnant right now and am having a hard time with help, and this is going to get the ball rolling for me to get help and people like me to get help," Baker says.
The Sioux City woman says she’s inspired by the president’s mission to help more people attend college. Baker says her life is hard right now, but education and job opportunities motivate her to achieve more.
Hillard Knutson is a retired social worker. So is his wife Ann. The pair listens to the president’s speech to learn about programs for aging and disadvantaged people. Knutson says that’s what missing from the national discussion.
"The only people that are heard are the protestors, the people who are the loudest, the people who have the most money," Hillard Knutson says.
The Knutsons live just outside of Sioux City. They appreciate the president’s remarks in their town, but they want more policy details.
Thursday evening President Barack Obama officially accepts the Democratic party’s nomination.
While Mr. Obama visited Iowa, his rival, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, spent Saturday touring hurricane damage in Louisiana.
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