Thursday, February 12, 2009

CNN interviews UIS students about Obama's visit to Springfield

By Courtney Westlake

Springfield was in the national spotlight on Thursday, February 12, as the city and the nation celebrated the 200th birthday of 16th President Abraham Lincoln, which also included a visit from current president, Barack Obama.

UIS students caught a bit of that spotlight on Thursday afternoon as five of them were interviewed by CNN in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in downtown Springfield. The students spoke about what Obama's visit means to the city and about Obama's election in general.

The students who were interviewed included Guila Ahern, Yolanda Beaman, Charles Olivier, Mike Ziri and Renee Rathjen. One topic that was brought up during the interview was Barack's support for the U.S. troops. Ahern noted that her brother was introduced to Obama before he was sent to Iraq, and the two corresponded.

"I thought it was very impressionable to have senator contacting him overseas," she said. "I think Barack's support of the troops is to be commended."

Rathjen spoke about Obama's support for the homosexual community and gay rights.

"I think this is the first time a politician has really gone out there to include our community," she said. "He has always supported our community, and he even had a specific part of his campaign of "Obama Pride."

CNN's reporter discussed the phenomenon that occurred during Obama's election in which he inspired thousands of Americans to register to vote and become involved in politics.

"As an African-American male, I feel like Barack Obama is really (representative of) the American dream; that's what really mobilized me and inspired me to donate money to his campaign," Olivier said. "All of us contributed to phone banking and reaching out to donors in any way we could."

Ahern echoed his sentiments and commended Obama's campaign.

"The way that he mobilized donors that have never donated to a campaign before was just remarkable," she said. "Calling your college students and your other grassroots organizations - it was just astonishing at how he was able to make it work."

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