CEDAR FALLS — Fans of the president and his wife — and a few less enchanted — turned out early today ahead of the first lady’s appearance.
Michelle Obama is not scheduled to speak until after 1 p.m. in the McLeod Center on campus at the University of Northern Iowa. Hundreds, however, began filing into the arena about 9:30 a.m.
“I love her. She’s a bright, intelligent woman and an excellent first lady. And I’m here to support her and her husband,” JoAnn Anderson-Wright of Cedar Falls said.
She got tickets early and wound up in the front row of seats in McLeod with her grandson, Brody Creighton, and husband, Bob.
“I didn’t think that we’d get this close. It’s great,” Anderson-Wright said.
At least a few people in the audience already have voted. Carolyn Metz, a UNI student from Ames, sent in her absentee ballot recently. She still wanted to see Mrs. Obama, however.
“I want to hear what she has to say,” Metz said.
Emily Walton, a UNI student from Marengo, also will be listening. She has not, however, decided who will get her vote.
Walton will graduate in the spring and is somewhat concerned about the U.S. economy. She said she would be listening for “how her husband is going to try to fix it.”
That topic is also on the minds of a few dozen Mitt Romney enthusiasts gathered outside the arena.
“I’ve watched the skyrocketing cost of gas, and of course, the prices at the grocery store are rising,” Laurie Welch of Waverly said.
Welch described herself as a single, working mother.
Victoria Hurst, a UNI student and chairwoman of the UNI College Republicans, also took a stand outside Mcleod. The stagnant economy was also on her mind.
“It’s very broken when half of college graduates are unemployed,” Hurst said.
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“We were promised hope and change four years ago. And we don’t have hope and we don’t have change in our pockets,” she added.
Jim Skaine of Cedar Falls, a retired UNI instructor, was headed into the arena when Carmen Halverson, also of Cedar Falls, offered him a Romney lapel sticker. Skaine, instead, took the opportunity exchange a few views on Romney and GOP policies.
“He’s part of what is wrong with Iowa right now,” Skaine said.
He later added President Barack Obama and Michelle are visiting the frequently for a reason.
“The campaign knows it’s the only way he can get to the public,” Skaine said.
A “corrupt news media” have otherwise stymied the president’s attempt to communicate his ideas, Skaine added.