The heat in the Missouri S&T Student Recreation Center could not stifle the anticipation as Rolla citizens filed in to hear Sen.
Barack Obama speak and quiz him on the issues that will influence their decision in November. Some came to support Obama, while others remained undecided.
Democrat Jami Leuschen, of Rolla, said economics and education were priorities for her this season. She supports Obama, but brought her undecided husband to the townhall meeting so that he could hear Obama speak.
With Leuschen was Democrat Jane Barrester, of St. Louis, who also supports Obama. As a teacher, Leuschen said education and economics were vital issues. She read his books, but wanted to see him for herself.
Barrester brought her 1-year-old daughter Maggie and Leuschen brought her 10-month old son Caleb. Too young to vote, but never too young to support, the children wore T-shirts that proclaimed, “My Mama’s an Obama Mama!”
Democrat Franklin Sanders, of Rolla, said the war in Iraq and the economy are the most important issues for him. Sanders said he wanted to see Obama in person and hear him speak, but does not need anymore convincing that he is the right candidate for president.
“I’m not sitting on the fence at all,” Sanders said.
Independent Don Brackhahn, of Rolla, said he thinks he will be voting for Obama, and came to the townhall meeting to see what was going on. Brackhahn said the economy and change are important issues, but negative commercials aired by the McCain campaign also influenced his decision. He referenced an ad that blames Obama for the high price of oil.
“One senator does not cause that,” Brackhahn said.
Democrat John Mazurek, of Osage Beach, is an E-4 stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. Mazurek took off early to learn more about Obama and to show his support.
For Mazurek, many of the issues in this presidential campaign hit close to home.
“My mom has cancer, but she doesn’t have any insurance,” Mazurek said.
The most important issues in this election, Mazurek said, is health care, the war in Iraq and energy.
Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Hawley, a Democrat, said she supports Obama because he is the candidate for change. Hawley agrees with the direction Obama wants to take the country on issues such as energy, the war in Iraq and health care. She was also excited to see come to rural Missouri.
“I think it’s just wonderful a presidential candidate came to Rolla, and it is indicative of his slogan of change,” Hawley said.