Article by Isabelle D’Antonio and Alyssa McComb.
Just 11 days before Election Day, President Barack Obama visited UCF’s CFE Arena to urge young people to vote for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and continue his legacy.
In the same arena that has held dozens of talent shows, dance competitions and concerts for UCF students, more than 10,000 people sat, stood and jumped for President Barack Obama’s arrival late Friday afternoon.
“I’ve got one campaign left in me … and I have a little more work to do, ” Obama quipped after greeting the crowd. “I am here today in Florida to ask you to work as hard as you did for me to make sure Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States of America.”
First-time voter Michelle Santana, a freshman accounting major, waited in line to support Clinton’s campaign and see the current president.
“I’m excited to hear [Obama] hype up Hillary … throw shade at Trump and [I want to] hear his last words before he’s out of office,” Santana, 18, said.
Santana and thousands of others formed a line that stretched from the entrance of the CFE Arena to beyond Tower 4 on North Orion Boulevard.
According to campaign volunteer Sirena Guenther, 21, at least 50 people were lined up outside the arena by 9:30 a.m. Although the arena is only fit to hold 10,600 people, more than 24,000 people RSVP’d online, Guenther said.
Twelve local police and law enforcement departments worked together to secure the area and ensure public safety, said a Seminole County deputy sheriff who declined to provide his name. A total of 78 police officials were there, as well as the Secret Service, the deputy sheriff said.
The political event roused two groups who began protesting outside the arena.
Holding signs and chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, TPP has got to go,” Progressive Action at UCF protested the Obama-supported Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a controversial free-trade agreement between the United States and 11 other countries.
“TPP will make it easier for American entrepreneurs, farmers and small business owners to sell Made-In-America products abroad by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes and other trade barriers on American products,” according to the Office of United States Trade Representative website.
Bryn Taylor, 19, president of the club, said that the TPP gives corporations the ability to outsource jobs and industry to other countries, ultimately hurting American workers.
“We’re just telling [Obama] and congressional candidates that we do not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We feel it’s a threat to American jobs and American industry and also our governmental sovereignty,” said Taylor, a junior communication sciences and disorders major.
Donald Trump supporters were also present outside the arena; their goal was to talk about Obama’s Affordable Care Act as well as Clinton’s campaign.
Nick Bartoszek, a freshman mechanical engineering major, marched with nine other protesters outside the arena, holding Trump signs and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
“I’m hoping for some of these supporters to realize what the current president is supporting — which would be another four years of the past eight years of a failed presidency,” Bartoszek, 18, said.
Carlos Guillermo Smith, the Democratic nominee for Florida House District 49, was the first to speak at the event inside the CFE Arena.
Guillermo Smith urged students to vote for Clinton even if they were previous Bernie Sanders supporters.
“I don’t know about you all but earlier this year I was feeling the ‘Bern.’ Sure, I cast my ballot in March for Senator Bernie Sanders,“ he said. “Now I’m with her because Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with the real chance to fight for the issues.”
Guillermo Smith, a UCF alumnus, told the audience that Orlando is a great place of acceptance and diversity.
“I am proud to call UCF my alma mater, but I am also proud to look out into this crowd and to see the diversity, resilience and the stories of survival and strength that define our people,” Guillermo Smith said.
Other speakers included Darren Owens, a 17-year-old sophomore at UCF; Aramis Ayala, Democratic nominee for state attorney for the 9th judicial circuit; Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson; Florida Democratic senatorial nominee Patrick Murphy; and College Democrats at UCF Vice President Devi Mody, who introduced Obama.
“I am so proud to support Hillary Clinton because she understands that America is a country of immigrants and we should keep families together instead of tearing them apart,” Mody said before welcoming Obama to the stage.
After chatting about UCF’s football game against Houston, joking with the Ocoee High School band and telling the audience who didn’t make it into the arena that he loved them, Obama got down to praising Clinton’s campaign.
“[Hillary] doesn’t always get the credit, but she does the work, she knows what she’s talking about,” Obama said. “When things don’t go her way, you don’t see her crying, you don’t see her saying things were rigged; she works harder and harder until things get done.”
Obama made it a point to focus on the students and millennials who were present. He said that if the young adults go out and vote this year, they will be able to make history by sending the first woman to the Oval Office.
“Understand this: All the progress we’ve made over the last eight years goes out the window if we don’t win this election — I mean the stakes could not be higher,” Obama said.
In addition to praising Clinton, Obama also encouraged the audience to vote for Murphy, who is a current congressman running to be a U.S. senator.
“You know who also is a hard worker? Patrick Murphy. Unlike his opponent, Marco Rubio, Patrick actually shows up to his job, he puts you ahead of politics,” Obama said.
Obama compared Murphy and Rubio on several accounts, such as showing up to work, global warming awareness and their stances on Planned Parenthood. The crowd started chanting, “Patrick, Patrick, Patrick,” and Obama joined in.
With the closing words of “Let’s get to work,” Obama shook hands and took selfies with members of the audience before leaving the screaming crowd.
Rachel Bergkemp, a freshman statistics major, said she thought the speech was great and is planning to vote for Clinton this Tuesday.
“I like how [Obama] involved every minority, he didn’t leave anyone out. [He said] Hillary Clinton would be the best candidate for everyone, not just a few select groups,” Bergkemp, 18, said.
Jarumi Bonner, a senior computer science major, sat behind Obama and the other speakers during the event.
“It was breathtaking being to so close to the first black president,” Bonner, 21, said. “The highlight of my night was being able to shake his hand. I don’t know if I’ll wash my hand for a while.”