By Jenny LaRue
Things can change quickly during a campaign. One day last week, the Ohio University-Lancaster student organization Cougar Democrats was organizing a local candidate debate. The next, it identified an opportunity and shifted its focus to hosting vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden.
When group members learned of the senator's campaign swing through Southeast Ohio, they were eager for the Lancaster campus to be one of his destinations. The Obama-Biden advance team visited campus Friday to assess space and security issues.
"It looked like we weren't big enough, that we didn't have enough space," said Josh Cassinger, a member of the group. Fortunately, his worries were put to rest the next day when the campaign team gave Ohio University-Lancaster the nod.
Student Kellie Doty drafted an official letter of invitation, and she and fellow members assisted in getting the grounds ready for Biden's appearance. Other members made posters, set up an information table and designed t-shirts.
Although it will be several years before he can vote, Doty's 10-year-old son, Matthew, took part, too.
"I helped set up chairs, and they asked me to count them," Matthew said. "There were 652 chairs, and then you have to add 100 for the bleachers."
In addition to filling those seats, members of the crowd that gathered outside Herrold Hall stood or perched on the John Bright Covered Bridge to hear from Biden, Gov. Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.
"It was an historic event that I'll be able to tell my students about," said Cassie Ellinger, an education major and Cougar Democrats president. "The senator's visit showed us that our vote as college students does count, just as much as any adult who's in the work force. The economy means just as much to us."