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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mayor Rybak visits Carleton to kick off Obama campaign

< crowded room in the Weitz Center last Thursday, students squeezed in for the official kick-off of the Obama campaign and to hear Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak speak.

The event was put on by Organizing for America, a community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee, and was meant to start building excitement on campus for the 2012 election.

“There was a huge turnout in 2008, and I think we’re going to get just as much energy in 2012,” said Hanna Terwilliger, a St. Olaf junior and the campus organizer. “Just look at how many people are here tonight.”

The main speaker and focus of the night was Minneapolis Mayor and Democratic National Committee Vice-Chair R.T. Rybak, who was the first mayor to endorse President Obama in 2008.

“I came because I wanted to see Rybak,” said Eli Robiner ’14.

Rybak energized the crowd of left-leaning students by bringing up the current Republican Presidential candidates.

“If you’ve watched any of the debates you know that it’s almost like the they landed from Mars – or 37 years ago,” Rybak said.
Healthcare, the economy, marriage equality and contraception were the most highly discussed issues of the night.

“I just don’t like the idea of Romney or Santorum winning the election because of their extreme and misguided views,” Robiner said.
After the opening remarks, Rybak tried to help students learn how to respond to critiques of Obama while they are out campaigning. Rybak framed many arguments along the line of “would you rather” in a way that highlighted the differences between Obama and the GOP.

“If you’re concerned that Wall Street runs elections now, just know that if the president loses and Romney win, it will get worse,” Rybak said.

He highlighted foreign policy differences between the candidates and called the president “intelligent, nuanced and brave enough to do what’s right.”

The most stressed message from the night, however, was not based on policy, but on what students need to do.

“I need you to keep circulating articles,” Rybak said. “Don’t wait, don’t be shy. We have a lot worth fighting for.”

Students interested in supporting Obama in 2012 are encouraged to go to the Greater Together Youth Summit April 14 at the University of Minnesota. There will be buses provided to shuttle students to the event and back.

Jeremy Bird, the National Field Director for President Obama, is one of a number of guests who will speak.

While the event was an exciting kick-off, not everyone was convinced that it will have the impact needed to win the election.

“It was a good start, but I’m worried that we will lose steam by the fall,” said Claire McFadden ’13.

The main concern is that students will lose interest over the course of a long campaign, but Rybak was undeterred.

“2008 was a remarkable year, but 2012 can be even better,” he said. “It’s up to you guys.”

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