Some came to hear about the president's views on Medicare, Social Security, or women's healthcare.
Some merely wished to see a sitting president in the flesh.
But all braved a steady downpour on Wednesday to see the President Barack Obama speak at Kent State University.
Obama came on stage shortly after 5:30 p.m. "Hello Kent State! Go Flashes!" he called to the roaring crowd.
His remarks began by touching on themes of opportunity and success for the middle class.
"This country succeeds when the middle class is growing, when there are ladders of opportunity for all people," he said. "We all believe that anybody is entitled to success in this country. Everybody’s got to work hard."
The president also told the audience that U.S jobs and the positioning of the U.S. economy in the global economy is at stake in the Nov. 6 election.
"I want to make sure we're providing tax breaks for companies right here in America," Obama said.
While the president campaigned in Kent — he spent the morning at Bowling Green State University — his opponent, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wrapped up a third day of traveling across Ohio with a stop in Bedford Heights near Cleveland.
Traditionally a swing state, Ohio could once again play a pivotal role in the election and as a result has drawn the attention of the candidates with Election Day just 41 days away.
As she stood in the rain early Wednesday afternoon, Carol Valeri, a retiree from Ravenna, said she hoped to hear Obama talk about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
“There has to be some changes in Social Security, but not like what Mitt Romney wants to do," she said. "I’d like him to be more specific about what he would cut and how he would do that.”
But it was all about women's health care for retiree, Marsha Schumacher, of Alliance.
"I want to hear him talk about what his policies, how they will affect women. … Women making their own decisions about their own medical needs is very important. I think President Obama will ensure women have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies. I’d like to hear him talk about that today.”
At the other end of the spectrum was students just hoping to get a look at the president.
“I never met a president before. I’m sick, my nose is running, my throat hurts. Once I get in there, it will be worth it, but right now I just don’t feel good,”said Kent student Kendra Landfair, who waited in line in the rain.
Landfair hoped to hear what the president had to say about tuition, as did fellow Kent student Leah Kushmaul.
“I want to hear him talk about the financial aid situation because I know Romney’s big on decreasing giving financial aid," she said. "And I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
A poll published by the Plain Dealer earlier this week also showed Obama leading Romney.
At Kent State's Memorial and Convocation Center -- commonly called the MACC -- the president's visit on Wednesday drew huge crowds despite lousy weather.
Speakers at the event included U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who represents District 17, who told the crowd that the president was counting on Kent and Portage County to win the election.
Ryan pointed to the federal investment in downtown Kent and asked the crowd, "Are you better off now than four years ago?"
He also pointed to the benefits students enjoy through federal programs. Pell Grants, federal student loans make you "the future job creators," not mooches, Ryan said.
Speaking to the audience, Kent State University USG director Evan Gildenblatt said Obama's message is one of hope, not fear. He exhorted the audience, "We have changed the world, Kent State!"
Thousands of supporters turned out Monday to get a ticket for the event. While local officials fretted over the potential cost of the presidential visit.
A liberal arts college, Kent State is the second largest public university in Ohio with a total 42,513 students enrolled for classes this fall. Kent is home to a largely Democratic voter base.