• 46°

Obama visits SSU

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS

PORTSMOUTH — He’s 9 years old now. So it will be another nine years before Clay Willis gets to vote for anyone.

But that didn’t stop his being front and center with his dad Thursday night as Barack Obama rocked Portsmouth.

“Believe it or not, I’m here because of my son,” John Willis of Ironton, said before the Obama campaign rally began. “It thrills me to see him at 9 show this kind of interest in our country.”

It was a first for the father and son to be at a presidential rally.

“There is an incredible need for change,” John Willis said. “The middle class has carried things for too long. We are at one of the most critical times in the nation in my lifetime.”

As raucous music pounded out of loud speakers, Obama fans — estimates ranged from 5,000 to 7,000 — were practically stacked on top of each other, dancing anywhere there was breathing room.

Alumni Green at Shawnee State University took on the electricity of a rock concert. The tip off that it wasn’t came from above — clusters of police sharpshooters stationed on the roofs of the campus buildings surrounding the green.

The crowd waited for about three hours and the crescendo of screams when Obama took the stage before 9 showed they thought he was worth the wait.

The speech varied little from what has been heard time and again, but the fans drank in every word.

“We’re at a moment of great uncertainty,” Obama said. “The financial crisis threatens our economic security. It is critical the Treasury implements this rescue plan. This is not just an issue for the big banks of New York. Now is the time for resolve and leadership. We can steer ourselves out of this crisis.”

The candidate had come from a day-long bus tour throughout Southern Ohio starting at Chillicothe going on to Columbus before coming into Shawnee State. With a hoarse voice he ticked off the broad points of his platform from offering the same kind of health care that Congress now has to promising no new taxes for the middle class.

As the crowds responded Obama seemed to become revitalized.

“We don’t need that erratic leadership (of John McCain),” he said. “We need a president we can trust. The next president will have to manage this recovery. Will that president be looking out for you?”

In less than a month the country will elect either the first African-American or the oldest president in history after a campaign noted for sharp attacks from both sides.

“I can take four more weeks of John McCain’s attacks,” Obama said. “America can’t take four more years of George Bush look-a-like policy.”

Promising to implement policies that put Main Street before Wall Street, Obama said the country needed a rescue plan for the middle class.

“We’re making sure we pass on the American dream to the next generation.”