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Posted on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Obama mania? U-M students consider level of excitement before president's speech Friday

By Kellie Woodhouse


People wait in line along East Jefferson Street between the Fleming Administration Building and the Literature, Science and the Arts building for tickets to see President Barack Obama speak

Angela J. Cesere |

Roughly 3,000 people Thursday morning received tickets to President Barack Obama's upcoming speech —many camping outside overnight to secure their place in line— and still hundreds of hopefuls were turned away.

It's clear: Obama mania has seeped into the University of Michigan campus as the school prepares for his speech on college affordability Friday at 9:35 a.m. at the Al Glick Field House.

Many students standing in line and roaming around campus lived here in 2010 when Obama was the spring commencement speaker, and we asked them how this month's impromptu visit compares with the last time the president and his entourage descended upon Ann Arbor.

"There’s been a lot of talk on campus. In all my classes students have been talking about if they’re going to go get tickets and professors are talking about it in class," said senior political science and American culture major Amanda Caldwell, president of the U-M College Democrats. "But to have a sitting president come and give a commencement speech is very different than what he’s doing now."

Official word about the president's visit wasn't widely issued by U-M until Tuesday morning and even then students said it took a while for word to spread.

"There were murmurs of it at first but then when people started really finding out that he's coming excitement went up quick," said freshman Brendan Harnos.

Junior Hannah Heebner, who attended Obama's 2010 commencement speech, agreed.

"It was kind of like a slow burn at first," she said.


From left: U-M student Joyce Harris does homework on the sidewalk near the Michigan Union while waiting in line with friends Tonia Brown and Palesa Matinde. They arrived to wait in line at 1:00 a.m. Thursday to get tickets.

Angela J. Cesere |

"I remember thinking it was so awesome to see him," Heebner said of the commencement speech. "Last time it was in the Big House there were a lot more people, but with only 3,000 tickets this time around, people are a lot more dedicated to getting in."

With short notice, a limited audience and a time slot that's in the middle of the semester -factors that didn't exist during May 2010— some students say the buzz hasn't quite reached the level it did before Obama's commencement speech.

"Last time he came it was for graduation, so it was a little bit different," said senior Tyler Leppek. "There was excitement for our friends who were graduating but also to experience Obama."

"This visit, it kind of popped out of nowhere and I think a lot of students didn't know ... at first," he continued.

Doctoral student Hope Thompson, who was a senior in college in 2008 when Obama was first elected, said she supports the president but couldn't devote the time to standing in line for tickets.

"Between class and work for me I just didn’t really consider going because it was going to be such a commitment," she said.

Emily Beam, a doctoral student at the public policy school, said there's been an overall waning of excitement about Obama among youths since he was elected in 2008.

"The sentiment here on campus in 2008 was very different because there wasn’t any reality to check it against. Obama represented an end to the eight years of Bush," she said. "Whether it’s because of his performance or his trouble in Congress or unrealistic expectations, people aren’t as excited."


People sleep on the floor outside of the Michigan Union Ticket Office, inside of the Michigan Union while waiting to get tickets to see President Barack Obama speak on Friday.

Angela J. Cesere |

Caroline Meehan, a masters student in the social work and public policy schools, said the excitement surrounding Obama's 2008 bid "is going to be hard to match."

She said the hype regarding the president's Friday speech hasn't quite reached the level she expected.

"It's been more subdued excitement," Meehan explained.

Meehan and Beam's thoughts are echoed by a December Harvard University poll that reported that most young voters —or 36 percent of respondents— think Obama will lose next year. Thirty percent of respondents guessed he'd win in November.

University of Michigan graduate student Kate Ditzler went door-to-door campaigning for Barack Obama in 2008.

The Canton native and masters student at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy remembers that period as one of unfading excitement, limitless possibilities and unceasing work.

Ditzler says she's still as committed to supporting the Obama's 2012 bid for re-election as she was in 2008, but she's unsure if that's the sentiment felt by the majority of the student population, which is widely credited for bringing Obama success in his original election bid.

"Unfortunately I think a lot of people don't understand the way politics work," Ditzler said. "He wants to do everything, but there are regulations to write and a Congress to corral and I think that a lot of the enthusiasm for something new and different is gone from Obama's campaign."

"I'm hoping people will use their college brains instead of their emotional political ones," she continued.

Caldwell, the U-M senior, says Obama hasn't lost his relevance among young people.

"Republicans... haven’t done anything to get young people's support. "I think Obama will have just as much support from young people as before."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Lac Court Orilles

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

Did anyone notice that our Governor did not attend The President of The United State's speech and visit to Michigan? He was hiding over in Grand Rapids because the was the one who signed the bill to cut spending on higher education by 15% thus making college less affordable for the poor and middle class in this state.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

"Unfortunately I think a lot of people don't understand the way politics work," Ditzler said Clearly, Ditzler hasn't learned about the rule of law or the guarantees of the Constitution that BO is doing his best to trash.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

•"Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse - hunger, hardship and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life."


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Just like the Pentagon, indoctrinate the children before they are smart enough to consider the consequences of war. This president and his party have cost these college kids more $$$ as they grow into adults then they can imagine. Quit seeing today as 2012..and think about these 20 somethings when they are 40 and 50 somethings with a US entirely dependent on any of them that have jobs, proabably paying north of 60% of their individual incomes in taxes... Big,fat, federal government, bloated waste beyond our wildest dreams, and all they will be able to do is think back to when they were young and impressionalbe. Obama=Free Ice Cream

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

All those of us who respect the job this President has done cleaning up the gigantic messes left by the previous President need to know: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;set=a.115969958413991.17486.114517875225866&amp;type=1</a>&theater It really was Bush's disaster - and it really does take a long time to clean it up.

Lets Get Real

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Obama reall did take the Bush mistakes - at $9 billion in debt and magnify it to $16 billion - as of today. Admirable.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Try a different channel than MSNBC. A plurality of ideas is really quite refreshing! Put down the NY Times and pick up the WSJ for one day or two.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

Was kind of hoping there might be some information on when/where the Presidential traffic jams might be, so as to avoid them.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 1:02 a.m.

&quot;Obama mania? U-M students consider level of excitement before president's speech Friday&quot; Two words for this: &quot;juvenile and ridiculous&quot; ! A one man &quot;wrecking crew&quot; who has personally destroyed the chance(s) of degreed college students getting good paying jobs(or any job for that matter) in the good old USA ! Good Day


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Obama Mania? It's a visit from the President of the United States, not a monster truck rally.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

Isn't this the same guy that sign the NDAA into law... The National Defense Authorization Act is a United States federal law that has been enacted recently, December of 2011, to specify the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense. This act contains language which permits the President of the United States to detain any United States citizen, home or abroad, under his suspicion of posing a &quot;terrorist&quot; threat; the citizen can be detained indefinitely, until the threat is perceived to have passed, and without trial or hearings.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:17 a.m.

Multi-State post SOTU campaign tour billed as official business and returning to a nice comfortable liberal bubble of a city - that be politics. More people watched &quot;American Idol&quot; than this election year SOTU (38M this year, 43M 2011, 48M 2010, 52M for Feb 2009 joint address to Congress). Obama approval rating on the economy 41%, Obama approval rating on the deficit 35%. Of those who say there has been little accomplished during Obama's tenure and who is responsible: Obama 56%, Republicans 18%. Obama's approval rating on international affairs 49% (down from 62% in March 2009). Source: Washington Post-ABC News poll, and Gallup January 2012. gotta love A2 And demographic snapshot: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

Yes Obamamainia is back. He will offer more taxpayer paid for student aid, more government paid mortages, more food stamps, more unemployement benefits. He will also tell us that people who save and invest their after tax dollars need to give the government more so he can look like a great and generous president. What he will not give us is the chance at lower gas prices or the 20,000 shovel ready jobs and 180,000 spin off jobs the XL pipiline would bring. The Army Corp of Eng, Dept of Interior, EPA, Dept of Commerce and other gov departments all said yes to XL but Pres Obama could not say yes. XL jobs did not fit his vision for a welfare state.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

He has a big govt / socialist vision for america, and the killing of the XL pipeline is the proof. He should lose the election on this issue alone.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

well the best thing to happen for democrats is for the repubs to run Newt against him.He will never get any crossover voters.The guy is wacko

Marshall Applewhite

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

I think it's cool for Obama to come to Ann Arbor to begin his campaign and rally the base, but I hope for the nation's sake that he doesn't win.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

Yes, at 2-3 million of tax payer money for every campaign .... er. um, tour stop, it's crazy!


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Welcome to AA, President Obama. Maybe when its Republican primary time, the Republican clown show will have a debate here. Love to see them assassinate each other's character during the debates. Makes such fun viewing.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Excitement? You already know what he's going to say. Foxnews did a piece were they cut apart a recent speech and found that nearly every phrase was copied from 2 years ago. ....... I'll reach across the isle (except when they won't give me what I want, then I'll get on the news and call them the party of no), I want healthcare reform (no matter how bad), I want to work on jobs (right, 3 years of the same bla bla bla), I want green energy (especially from companies who gave me campaign money, I'll give them lots of your money, even as they go bankrupt), I wan transparency (this one's such a joke ..... leave it at that.) L


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

All school kids don't have to say the pledge, just the one supported publicly. Gay people have the same rights as everyone else, conservatives just don't care they're gay. What you're talking about is special rights. Gay people do get the same job benefits as everyone else, once again, you're talking about special rights. What myriad of laws restricting voting? Last time I checked, all republicans wanted was proof that you lived in the country, why is that so difficult? Like I said, republicans protect freedom.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Republicans, true freedom? True freedom not trying to pass a law to make all school kids say the Pledge before classes, true freedom is to allow gay couples to receive the job benefits offered to everyone else, true freedom is not passing a myriad of laws to restrict voting, true freedom is to not try to break labor unions, and on and on. Yes the Republicans are the party of true freedom!


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

Romney gave to charity instead of getting taxed, I like that idea. Charity is much better with money than the government. Yes, Romney would be a bad president, because having someone extremely successful would be a bad thing, let's go find another community organizer!


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Aw. Now I get it. Fox news fan. 'Nuff said.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Yea, Fox News, the most unbiased of all the news services. By the way its the Republicans that have threatened to or filibustered every bill that the Democrats put forth, not the Democrats. Obama has a jobs bill, fought to a standstill by the Republicans. I have not seen any Republican job initiatives except to say no to tax increases to the &quot;job creators&quot;. Of course Romney is a real job creator with his $25M income and his off shore non-taxed investments, he needs to pay less taxes.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Disappointing to read the posted comments. It is standard that the &quot;anyone but Obama&quot; crowd cannot come up with legitimate criticism of President Obama - so they just insult the citizens that support him and his administration. I think it is great that the students are excited about the President coming to their University to talk about an issue that is so important to them and their families. I, too, appreciate the President coming to Ann Arbor. Four more years!!!!

Lets Get Real

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

I think it is great that students are excited about the president coming, too. I hope they are excited to tell him about his HOPE and CHANGE: HOPE that he would actually know what he is doing, CHANGE that raised their tuition (BTW UM is affordable for whom?), while administrators got salary increases, HOPE they will be able to get a job when they graduate, CHANGE that will require them to pay more for health care, HOPE that they will get a multi-million dollar handout to fund their unfeasible green business idea CHANGE that will place more responsibility on them to contribute to their parents' care as medicare and social security is reduced, and HOPE that his stimulus spending, increasing the national debt from $9-16 billion in just 3 years, will actually make a difference, and CHANGE that increase their taxes to pay for his bad economic decisions. Four more years? Not if my vote counts. I'm done with this arrogant attitude that he is smarter than anyone else and that the country's problems are everyone else's fault that have nothing to do with him. I'm done with the attitude that he and his family are entitled to a pampered existence on the taxpayer dime - traveling to trendy, upscale places dragging along an entourage of opportunistic benefactors. He does what he knows - organizes: lives on other people's money, stirs the pot of discontent, places blame, raises his chin in superiority and places leads with threats and guilt cajoling them to bow to his exceptional intelligence. WE've seen the consequence of his inexperience in management and leadership. We can't afford four more years.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

It would take more space than allowed to come up with legitimate criticism of President Obama. How about a book?


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

Joe.blow may I kindly remind you which President captured and killed Bin Laden? Which President finally got our men out of Iraq? Which President asked the Congress to work together not against each other? Which President supported the Detroit auto industry? This country was a financial mess when he came into office. So, yes, I follow politics and I actually have always respected the sitting President of the United States. Even when it wasn't someone I voted for.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

@joe.blow-have you heard that listening to Fox News actual makes you dumber than if you didn't listen to any news at all? Seriously. There have been various studies pointing this out. This country is in a whole lot better shape after the eight years of your former president. Luckily, there was someone with the skill to clean up that mess. Oh. But we don't follow politics. Close this down To continually allow these types of rants serves no purpose.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

I love it, you haven't heard of ANY of Obama's scandals. You people don't follow politics, yet like some random dudes smile and blindly follow a message of hope and change without any actual stance, position or substance. That's right, keep voting off of looks and handshakes. This country is doomed.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

@joe What?


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

How about his record of transparency. Here about Solendra? Here about Obamacare behind closed doors? How about the great amount of random closed door meetings to Chicago brow beat fows into caving to this president. Should I continue. I don't think our country can survive 4 more years of this joke.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

Here's to BO...never learned the difference between being good and looking good. Dazzled by his own footwork!


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:17 a.m.

I can't help but wonder what comments does delete... some of the comments here about the President of the United States are terrible!


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

@juleswhimsies-please Jules, this rag called a paper will let anyone rant. All about advertising dollars and nothing to do with decency.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

I find your remark to be quite offensive in referring to the sitting President of the United States in this way.

Yeah buddy

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

How considerate of Obama to give speeches at UM celebrating the bookends of his presidency.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Obama mania is an offensive headline. He is the President of the United States and students care about their future and are excited at hearing someone who offers them hope that they can identify with .


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

I'd rather have a president to offer results, which this guy can't do. All this guy can do is promise HOPE. Yeah, that's what college students need, hope, I'd rather have a job.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Offensive to you.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

President Obama, please tell President Coleman the problem is not that she is getting too little taxpayer assistance (most of the budget is from taxpayers including grants, medicaid and medicare) but that she is spending too much. She can start by giving back her new $100,000/yr in deferred compensation.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Wonder why Obama chose the UM for this forum on college affordability? (Wouldn't it be nice if the University of Michigan were affordable!)


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

I can think of $20 million dollars in administrative cuts he could start with.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

Watch as the same people that tell everyone to go out and get a good education now turn around and mock people that are getting a good education.


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

It won't be long before the arrival of The Messiah!


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

The Messiah passed in June of 2004, He has been resurrected in recent debates with a bit of revisionism thrown in to shine the Legacy. Just out of curiosity, have you ever heard a liberal refer to our Commander in Chief as &quot;The Messiah&quot;?


Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Water bottles are not allowed to be brought into the event, so Kool-aid will be served free of charge.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

I find it sad that the students won't get the reference. Don't they do any research? Obviously not, they keep voting for people with ugly pasts.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

Mjc this is a current political statement, not directly referring to jones..but rather that many supporters of BHO support him not for his action but rather just because he says so....As Gov. Brewer says too thin skinned! I respect your opinion, respect mine.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

The good news Hunterjim is that all the young students who stood in line today for the chance to see the President of the United States probably don't know what you're talking about. So your snip at our President is just in poor taste.