Article by Deanna Ferrante and Evan Abramson.
“You have the chance to shape history. Don’t let that chance slip away.”
With a crowd of 11,000 huddled together on a soggy baseball diamond at the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, President Barack Obama stepped up to the plate to deliver this message Sunday at a rally in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Before the Democratic Party’s heavy hitter took the field, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic senatorial candidate Patrick Murphy pumped up the crowd, addressing the importance of voting for Democrats down the ballot on Election Day.
When it came time for Obama to speak, he drove home the importance of getting Clinton elected.
“You have the chance to elect someone who’s spent her entire life believing in this democracy,” Obama said. “You have the chance to elect the first female president. Don’t fall for those who’ve told you your vote doesn’t matter.”
Obama wasn’t the only ace on the field supporting Clinton. Musical legend Stevie Wonder performed before the president spoke, playing a mixture of original songs and older classics.
As members of the audience clapped their hands and swayed against the metal barricade separating them from the singer, Wonder crooned out the words, “We already live in an America that’s great. United, we’ll make it better.”
Then, despite the fickle rain showers that fell throughout the event, the crowd stood firm and greeted Obama with thunderous applause.
He started off by talking about all the work he — and the country – has accomplished in office: how we climbed out of a recession, how he provided 20 million Americans with health care, how we became a world leader in climate change, how we took out Osama Bin Laden and how we legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“No wonder I’ve got gray hair,” Obama quipped. “We’ve been working hard.”
But, he said, all of that progress would be for nothing if Donald Trump wins the election. He went on to talk about why Trump is not fit to be president, citing his lewd comments about women and his temperament.
“I’ve been in this office for nearly eight years. Here’s what I can tell you: Who you are, what you are, does not change when you take office,” Obama said. “It just magnifies who you are. It just shines a spotlight on who you are.”
He called into question Trump’s rants on Twitter.
“Now if someone can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle the nuclear codes,” Obama said. “If somebody starts tweeting at three in the morning because [Saturday Night Live] made fun of you, then you can’t handle the nuclear codes.”
Obama even addressed the protesting incident that happened at one of his rallies in North Carolina on Friday. An elderly Trump supporter, dressed in a military uniform, started to make a scene as Obama spoke. Instead of addressing the protester, the president admonished the crowd who started to boo him, telling them they should show him respect.
That same day, at one of his own rallies, Trump spoke about the incident, saying that Obama had “spent so much time screaming at this protester.”
“He just made it up and said the exact opposite of what had happened,” Obama said. “He thought it was okay to lie in front of all of his supporters, on television … and that is why he is uniquely unqualified to hold this job, and the great news is that all of you are uniquely qualified to make sure he doesn’t get the job.”
As he spoke about the Republican presidential nominee, the crowd devolved into jeers and boos. Obama raised a hand, shaking his finger at the crowd.
“Don’t boo. Vote,” he said. “He can’t hear your boos, but he can hear your votes.”
It was the theme that flowed through the entire rally: the power the American people have through voting.
Senatorial candidate Patrick Murphy, when asked about the importance of the millennial vote during this election, said that young people have the power to shape it.
“We’ve got to make sure our voice is heard because these issues are going to impact us more than our parents and grandparents,” Murphy said. “But we don’t show up in the numbers that we should be. Millennials can control the elections from this point going forward if we show up and vote. We have to exercise that right.”
It was a sentiment shared by UCF students Keenan McMahon, 20, and Logan Miller, 24.
“It’s our future. It sounds really morbid, but the older generation will eventually no longer be here,” said McMahon, a junior double majoring in international global studies and communication. “For us to live in the world that they decided doesn’t seem right to me. I don’t want to clean up their mess … I’d rather not make a mess.”
Miller, a junior majoring in history, agreed. He said that young people need to vote, especially for Clinton, because their votes would affect not only her term in office, but also policies that would continue on into the future.
“I have my entire life to deal with the consequences of a Supreme Court justice or a policy about clean air, whereas older voters — not to be crass about it — but they’re … nearing the end of their time,” he said. “So my vote is almost more important for me, just because I’ll be living with the consequences … longer.”
In the final moments of his address, Obama threw out one last pitch:
“When you vote, we cannot lose. When you vote, we reject fear. When you vote, we embrace hope. Choose hope.”