About 5,000 lucky supporters of President Barack Obama will listen to his campaign message in person Wednesday when he speaks at the Kent State University Memorial Athletic Convocation Center.
Hundreds of people from around Northeast Ohio lined up as early as 3:30 a.m. today to get their ticket to see the president when he stops in Kent Wednesday afternoon.
On the Kent State campus, one of two ticket give-away locations in Kent, the line stretched early this morning from outside the Kent State Library along the Esplanade, past the MACC, down Terrace Drive and around the May 4 1970 Memorial to Taylor Hall.
Evan Gildenblatt, executive director of Kent State's Undergraduate Student Government speaking for the Obama Ohio campaign, said he wasn't surprised to see such a huge line on campus to get tickets to see the president.
"I think it's going to be like this until the tickets run out," he said. "Personally I'm not surprised at all. I'm extraordinarily happy. It just serves as a reflection of how excited students are to see President Obama."
Campaign officials would not comment on the number of tickets available to the campaign stop.
The MACC, home primarily to Kent State's basketball program, has a seating capacity of 6,327.
Kent State spokesperson Emily Vincent said the Obama campaign limited the number of tickets to 5,000 as of this morning.
"They may release more tickets, but for now they are distributing 5,000 tickets for Wednesday," she said.
The Record-Courier reported that all the tickets had been given away by about 2 p.m.
Brittany Smith, a senior psychology student at Kent State, was one of those lucky folks who got a ticket to see the president this morning.
Smith, a Cleveland native, said she was a little chilly after waiting in line with friends for two hours to get her ticket.
"It was worth it, yeah," she said. "I want to hear what he has to say as far as tuition and (student) aid because his opponent doesn’t really have anything to say about that besides 'Shop around and borrow from your parents.' That’s a big deal. If you want to get jobs, you have to go to school. And if you’re not telling us you’re going to help us get through school, how are we going to get jobs?"
Wednesday's Kent stop will be Obama's second that day, as he'll visit the campus of Bowling Green State University in the morning.
Given that he'll be on a college campus he may talk briefly about higher education, but Gildenblatt said he's expected to focus on the economy during his speech.
"Building an economy that’s strong for students," Gildenblatt said. "So that when myself and my cohorts enter the work world we have strong and steady jobs waiting for us."
At the second ticket giveaway location in Kent, the Obama for America Kent office on South Water Street, the line was slightly shorter but still several hundred yards long.
Bonny Graham Esparza, a Kent volunteer for the campaign, said they were registering people in line to vote — if they weren't already — and signing them up for absentee ballots.
The office is scheduled to give tickets away until 6 p.m.
Marcus Ward, a Kent State grad from Akron, got in line there at 10 a.m. when the line had wrapped around Bowman Drive and started heading down Vine Street. He was optimistic about getting a ticket.
"I’d hate to be coming at 4 or 5 p.m.," he said. "I think I have a pretty good chance. I missed him last time he came to Akron. I can’t miss it again. I just really want to hear what he has to say in person."