Though hundreds lined up on Sunday before campaign officials began issuing passes for President Barack Obama’s Charlottesville appearance, tickets remain, according to campaign officials.
As volunteers geared up for a second day of issuing tickets from noon to 8 p.m. today, members of the Jefferson Area Tea Party announced plans for a counter-rally to coincide with Obama’s visit.
Volunteers plan to issue tickets on a first-come, first-served basis at the Downtown Charlottesville Obama for America field office at 407 E. Main St.; at the Albemarle field office at 335 Greenbrier Drive, Suite 206; at the University of Virginia on The Corner at 1325 W. Main; and at the Fluvanna field office, at 265 Turkeysag Trail, No. 110, in Palmyra.
Campaign officials said Obama plans to speak at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, with doors at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion on the Downtown Mall opening at 1 p.m.
The Oust Obama counter-rally begins at noon Wednesday in Lee Park. The Rev. E.W. Jackson, who lost the Republican nomination for Senate to George Allen, plans to speak at 1 p.m., followed by Del. Rob Bell and local radio talk show hosts Rob Schilling and Joe Thomas.
At noon Sunday, campaign officials said more than 200 people stood in line at ticketing locations on the Downtown Mall, on the Corner and in Albemarle County.
Gerald Barnes, the first to line up outside the field office on the mall at 7 a.m., received the first ticket to Obama’s appearance.
“They’ve got a lot of good potential among both of them,” said Barnes, also first in line for tickets to Michelle Obama’s scheduled appearance in July. “She’s good with schools, education and healthcare. Obama is good with the community and giving us hope and life.”
The first lady’s visit was canceled after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado.
Sharon Lovell, third in the line after traveling from Staunton, said she enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow Obama supporters as she waited.
“They’re all excited, very friendly people,” she said. “We’ve just gotten to know each other since we’ve been out here.”
Lovell said she hopes for Americans to unify if Obama is reelected.
“I’d like to see people come together, for the country to come back from being so split,” she said.
Farther back in the line that stretched down Fourth Street Northeast onto East Market Street, David Baltimore said Obama appeals to him as someone “for the common man.”
“He appeals to the 99 percent,” he said. “I admire him a lot and look forward to seeing him in person. I hope this will solidify support for him in the election and prompt a few more people to vote for him.”
Just in front of Baltimore, Helen Underwood expressed concern about Republicans’ stances on abortion.
“I was shocked when I moved to Virginia to find out Gov. [Bob] McDonnell was voting in the legislature to do away with women’s rights that I fought for in the ’70s,” said Underwood, a Virginia resident for just two months. “I thought I had a right as a woman to decide what I do with my body and I’m finding out that’s not true. I want Obama back in there because he’s the only one now who is saying anything positive about women’s rights.”
Charlottesville Democratic Party co-chairman Jim Nix said he found the excitement among Obama supporters “reassuring.”
“It didn’t come as a surprise to us, but it’s certainly gratifying to see this level of enthusiasm here,” he said.
Nix said Obama’s visit to Charlottesville is part of an important campaign strategy to appeal to young voters.
“The president feels very strongly that everyone should have the right to vote and should be encouraged to vote,” he said. “Coming to places where there are large aggregations of young voters to get them excited about the election and encourage them to exercise their right to vote is very important.”
Obama’s visit is part of a two-day college-town tour after stops in Iowa and Colorado.
UVa declined to host Obama’s visit, in part because of the major disruption holding the event at locations requested by the campaign on Central Grounds would bring on the second day of classes.
UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan said in a statement that at least 186 classes would have been canceled to accommodate the appearance.
University officials said UVa also was asked to bear any security costs and would be legally obligated to offer the same accommodation to any other presidential campaign that wanted an event on Grounds.
Nix said issues talked about by supporters as they waited for tickets are the same ones on the minds of “persuadable” voters he’s canvassed locally — healthcare, job creation and abortion.
“People have a lot of questions, but when they hear what the president’s policies are, they come around,” he said. “My focus is on Central Virginia and the Virginia vote and it looks very good here.”
At the counter-rally, the Jefferson Area Tea Party plans to focus on similar issues.
“Issues planned for discussion include the 42 consecutive months of national unemployment over 8 percent … the $5.2 trillion of national debt accumulated during the short Obama presidency, the failed stimulus plan and our weakest economic recovery in 65 years, the looming disastrous consequences of Obamacare, the massive growth of the size and overreach of the federal government,” a news release from JATP said.
In the release, JATP encouraged attendees to bring blankets, folding chairs and signs.
Those attending the Obama event are asked to bring as few personal items as possible and prepare for “airport-like security.”
Attendees may bring small purses and cameras, but should leave behind large bags, umbrellas, sharp objects, liquids and signs.
Children under the age of 5 may attend the event without tickets. Tickets may be picked up for another person as long as the person picking up the ticket has the attendee’s name, email address, phone number and ZIP code.