Political candidates always seem to have a flag in the background.
"He was extremely inspiring-- I was tingling," says first-year UVA student Lina Zimmerman, with fellow 'Hoos Emily Mosher and Lindsey Hall.
photo by lisa provenceclick to view more photos
The last time President Barack Obama was in Charlottesville in 2010, he was here to lend a hand to Congressman Tom Perriello's ultimately unsuccessful reelection bid. This time, he was here to boost his own reelection. And thousands filled the nTelos Pavilion August 29 in a sea of orange, white, and blue.
The visit was part of a three-campus swing to get out the youth vote. Orange-clad UVA students were plucked from the crowd to sit on the dais behind Obama, and three took the stage to introduce him, including volunteer Mathias Wondwosen.
"For the first time in many of your lives, you're going to get to pick the next president," Obama told the crowd.
A line stretched the length of the Downtown Mall to get into the Pavilion, and attendees sweltered for hours under the canopy waiting for the president, who took the stage around 3:30pm.
Not everyone got into the Pavilion– even some with tickets– and shortly before Obama's arrival, the Paramount Theater opened its doors and broadcast the event happening down the Mall.
Perriello was back, along with former Governor Tim Kaine, now running for the U.S. Senate against former Senator George Allen. Missing from the podium of high-profile Dems seeking office was Brigadier General John Douglass, who's challenging Congressman Robert Hurt for the 5th District.
Obama struck themes dear to Dems: Healthcare, gay marriage, clean energy, and affordable college education. While his healthcare plan is often derided as "Obamacare," the president took ownership of the term, saying it's "affectionately" known as that.
What we didn't learn until afterwards was the reason an hour elapsed between the end of the event and the president's departure. For one thing, he greeted volunteers at his Charlottesville campaign headquarters on the Downtown Mall. But he also did something astounding. He spent more than half an hour inside the Herman Key Recreation Center to reply to questions on the Reddit social news site in what Reddit regulars call an "AMA" for (ask me anything).
The president's appearance on Reddit did three amazing things: It validated the site which was founded by a pair of UVA graduates, it created so much traffic it briefly crashed Reddit, and it became the avenue by which the president revealed that he'd like to see a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's campaign finance decision known as Citizens United.
–last two paragraphs added at 10:35am, September 1