LIMA — Many organizations were hard at work in anticipation for President Barack Obama’s visit to the Lima Senior High School gym this afternoon, drawing supporters as well as some protesters.
“To draw the leader of the free world into this town is great,” said Larry Donaldson, former president of United Autoworkers Local 214. With less than a week before the presidential election, “I don’t know if the timing could be any better than what it is right now.”
Obama is the first sitting Democratic president to visit Lima since Harry Truman did in 1948. He’s also campaigning at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Columbus and in Springfield today before arriving in town. He is to discuss his plan for the next four years if he’s re-elected for a second term, focusing on creating jobs, developing American-based energy and reducing the national debt.
The Lima Police Department was not given all specifics on road closures for security reasons, but North, Jackson and Market streets surrounding Lima Senior High School will be closed before, during and briefly after the president’s visit.
There will also be road closures based on the route the president’s motorcade will take when it comes into Lima this afternoon.
A limited number of tickets were distributed for the rally, and all have been given out. Attendees will go through airport-like security clearances and should arrive early at the school’s main entrance. People may bring items like purses and cameras, but no food, drink or signs will be allowed inside. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. at Lima Senior High School. The president’s speech will begin at approximately 3:20 p.m. in the gym. People there can either sit in the bleachers or stand.
Lima Senior High School students not attending the rally will be dismissed from class at 1:45 p.m. Students who plan to attend will be dismissed at their regular dismissal time.
Donaldson applauded Obama’s support for American autoworkers by allowing the auto bailout to happen, which he said saved many Ohio jobs.
“Mitt Romney might try to pretend that he stood by autoworkers during their darkest hour. But we know better. Mitt Romney urged that we let Detroit go bankrupt,” Donaldson said in a prepared statement. “He would have devastated the auto industry, and the one in eight Ohio jobs that depend on it. Mr. Romney, if you don’t stand with America’s autoworkers, then you certainly don’t stand with our middle class.
“There was only one person who stood by us, and that was President Obama. He ignored pundits and politics and rescued the industry when nobody else would. And that includes Mitt Romney,” he added.
Also planning to attend, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will set up outside the school to bring attention to the cruelty of elephants in Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus troupes. PETA states that it does not take position in support or in opposition of any political party or candidate for public office.
For those without tickets to see the president and listen to his speech, Your News Now is broadcasting Obama’s speech live on ABC Lima and online on hometownstations.com.