Students in the University of Akron’s Battleground Ohio class twice have seen weather foil their chance to see President Barack Obama in a large venue.
The first instance occurred this summer at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, where Obama planned to give his acceptance speech in a large, open-air stadium. A predicted storm changed those plans, however, and the UA students left the convention early when they learned they wouldn’t be able to get into the smaller, indoor arena.
Round two unfolded Tuesday, when the Obama campaign canceled his scheduled campaign stop today at UA’s James A. Rhodes Arena. Most of the Battleground Ohio students planned to attend.
Obama today will continue to monitor recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy and plans to visit affected East Coast cities.
“They are beginning to think that the weather’s against them,” joked John Green, executive director of UA’s Bliss Institute for Applied Politics, who co-teaches the battleground course with two well-known political consultants.
The UA students weren’t the only ones disappointed by the president’s change in plans. The university, which would have basked in the presidential campaign spotlight, was let down, as were the hundreds of people who had stood in line for tickets.
Jessica Kershaw, a spokesperson for Obama’s campaign in Ohio, said Tuesday she is not sure if Obama will reschedule the Akron appearance, which would have fallen six days before Tuesday’s election.
Green said the decision to cancel campaign events is a difficult one, especially because so much planning goes into them.
“Unexpected things happen from time to time and throw a monkey wrench in,” he said. “It’s a tough call for both sides. He doesn’t want to be perceived as callous. On the other hand, it’s getting real close to the election.”
Vice President Joe Biden canceled a campaign visit he had scheduled for Tuesday in Wooster.
Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate, canceled a few events, but was back on the trail Tuesday. His message was geared toward relief efforts.
“Romney is in a better position because he doesn’t have the responsibilities of the White House,” Green said.
The latest polls show the race for Ohio being a true toss-up, so Green said the last-minute visits by both campaigns will be final chances for them to energize voters and the volunteers who will help get people to the polls on Election Day.
“This election feels like 2004 — very tight, very close, not decided until the last day,” Green said. “Turnout is very important. They need to get their volunteers and activists enthused.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @swarsmith.