Supporters of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s bid for the White House gathered Tuesday night at the Boone County Courthouse to commemorate five years since his 2002 speech opposing the Iraq war.
Columbia was chosen by the Obama campaign to be one of 17 cities around the country to participate in the anniversary. Susan Montee, state auditor and chair for Women for Obama, delivered a speech during the rally and two MU students, each with two brothers in the army, read the senator’s speech aloud.
Glenn Rehn, an MU student and contributer to Tuesday’s event, said that he thinks Columbia was chosen because of the amount of support the city holds for Obama and the level of involvement that has been demonstrated.
Rehn’s own support for Obama springs from the candidate’s position on Iraq, but he also said that he finds Obama to be more involved with students than other candidates he has worked with.
“They have had a huge emphasis on student involvment and student vote and they are really trusting in students to put out the vote,” Rehn said.
Obama’s interest in higher education is to make it more affordable to students, and in fact the first bill he introduced in the Senate was an attempt to increase the maximum amount of money given to students who recieve Pell Grants. A similar bill, The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, was signed by President Bush on Sept. 27 and ensures a $500 increase in the grants next year, and an eventual increase from a maximum of $4800 to $5400 by 2012.
“In a global economy where countries who out-educate us will out-compete us tomorrow, we must make a college education available and affordable for every American and that means doing more to invest in programs that work and expanding them to more students,” Obama said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate floor.