A huge crowd braved long lines — some waiting as long as five hours — and a cold Saturday night to hear President Barack Obama make his case for reelection at a grassroots rally at Bristow’s Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater.
The campaign stop also featured former President Bill Clinton and Virginia-native Dave Matthews.
In his late-night address to the crowd, Obama cast the election as a choice between two different visions of America.
“The people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night; the men and women I meet on the campaign trail every day,” Obama said. “It’s about the kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats or even a president. They need a champion because the future will never have as many lobbyists as the past, but it’s the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace.”
Obama, energized and showing no sign of fatigue from the hours of campaigning on Saturday, was often interrupted by the crowd with chants of “four more years.”
"After four years as president, you know me," Obama said. "So, when you're trying sort through this argument about change, part of what you have to ask yourself is, 'Who do you trust?'"
A slightly hoarse President Clinton told the crowd President Obama deserves four more years in office for a variety of reasons from signing the Lily Ledbetter Act for equal pay to supporting Planned Parenthood.
One of those reasons, Clinton said, is that "he has fulfilled his solemn responsibility to be a good commander-in-chief," he said, citing Obama's international successes.
He also joked, "And, he has a heck of a secretary of state."
Watch both Presidents Obama and Clinton's speeches in Bristow in the media box located up and to the right. See photos from President Obama's visit to Bristow here.
About two-dozen Romney supporters gathered across the street from the rally waving signs and chanting “three more days,” to passersby. They left before the president arrived.
Some polls indicate the Virginia race is still a toss-up, but supporters of Republican challenger Mitt Romney said absentee voting trends in the state show the enthusiasm Virginians displayed for the president in 2008 has waned in this election.
Thousands in Virginia have already voted absentee and some reports indicate early voting in other states has been strong. The Obama campaign contends that its early voting advantage in battleground states will make it difficult from Romney to catch up on Election Day.
Crowd Shows Enthusiasm
There was no lack of enthusiasm in the crowd on Saturday night. Tracy Bishop and Michael Athanas made the four-and-a-half hour drive from Blacksburg to see the president. They arrived at the outdoor amphitheater at 2 p.m. Saturday, well before the doors opened at 7 p.m.
“We’re here because we support the president,” Athanas said. “Obama brought us out of war and has begun to fix the economy. Everybody forgets about how bad things were during the eight years of (President George W.) Bush.”
Monique Moody, of Gainesville, and Lynnett Harris, of Manassas, also said they were enthusiastic. “I’m supporting him because he’s moving in the right direction with jobs and the economy. Things are much better than they were four years ago.”
Harris agreed. “Everything was a mess when he took office,” Harris said. “Everybody knows that you need more than just four years to clean things up. There is an awful lot at stake in this election.”
Winchester residents Jim Micklewright and his wife Maryann Iacobucci said they turned out because they wanted to show that their support for Obama had not diminished. They both voted for him in 2008.
“We both feel a positive enthusiasm,” Micklewright said. “There is no war in Iraq and the world opinion of America has changed. Other countries have more respect for us because Obama is not about telling people to behave the way he wants them to.”
Keith Bird, a transplanted Englishman living with his family in Bristow, said he has been absorbed by the election and continues to support Obama.
“I believe in what he says and in the promises that he makes,” Bird said. “A lot of the changes that he has made are good, like what he’s done with health care and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
In 2008, Obama won Prince William County (which includes the community of Bristow) with 58 percent of total votes reported. On Sunday, Obama will swing through rallies in Concord, N.H. (with Bill Clinton); Ft. Lauderdale; Cincinnati and Aurora, Colo.
Romney will hold a rally on Monday at 12:45 p.m. Sunday at George Mason University in Fairfax City. .
- President Obama to Campaign in Prince William Saturday