It’s been nearly 50 years since a current U.S president has been to the University of Washington. Not since JFK visited in November of 1961 and delivered a centennial address for the University has a sitting president come to campus. No wonder, then, that President Barack Obama’s visit on a golden October morning drew such a crowd of, and a roar from, Seattleites and UW students. A whopping 10,000 people packed Hec Ed this morning, with another 3,000 spilling over into Husky Stadium next door.
And that was after he stopped at Top Pot Doughnuts, was handed a cup of coffee (according to Gov. Christine Gregoire), attended a small backyard discussion in northeast Seattle, met with the UW women’s volleyball and cross country teams, and ran out of the tunnel and into Husky Stadium cheering “Go Huskies!”
Truth is, as we all know, the President was in town to stump for Senator Patty Murray. And, he did it well. There were funny anecdotes—including one that had an imaginary Murray and the President pushing a car out of a mud-filled ditch (“It was a really deep ditch,” he said, “and it was really reckless driving”)—and the expected calls to vote. Of course, there also was the President’s signature ability to lead the crowd into chanting “Yes We Can” at every turn. Yes, he was stumping, playing the politician, attempting to drive votes for his team.