A crowd of 30,000 students and community members received the president for a campaign speech aimed at young voters and university students.
According to a University of Wisconsin statement, students began lining up for the event at 7 a.m. and were allowed into the venue at approximately noon.
The president spoke at about 4 p.m after introductory speeches from Mayor Paul Soglin, Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and members of the Obama campaign.
Obama responded to many of the issues mentioned in the debate Wednesday night in an effort to rally the students and residents of Madison for their votes.
Noting the differences between his and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaigns, Obama emphasized contrasts in addressing the deficit.
“This country does not grow from the top down, it grows from the middle out,” Obama said in reference to the Romney campaign’s focus on “trickle-down economics.”
Obama told an eager crowd that the American middle class deserves more than the “trickle-down” of the wealthy, a policy which he said the U.S. has attempted and seen fail.
Referencing the debate, Obama also poked fun at Romney’s comment about cutting subsidies to Public Broadcasting Service’s “Sesame Street.”
“Get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he is going to crack down on Sesame Street,” Obama said. “Thank goodness someone is cracking down on Big Bird. Who knew he was behind the deficit? Elmo better watch out.”
The president also addressed the importance of the education system in this year’s presidential campaign and said education was the only reason he was standing on that stage. The president also said in the last four years his administration has been able to address the “middlemen” in the student loan system and “give money directly to the students.”
Obama said he hopes to end the growth of tuition costs in order to end the “burden” of student loan debt and added he hopes to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers for his next term.
The president ended his approximately 22-minute speech expressing his dedication to all American citizens, regardless of political party affiliation, and emphasizing the importance of the vote, asking for people to not “give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference.”
“I believe in you and I am asking for you to believe in me,” Obama said.
Sophomore English major Maddy Michaelides said she had a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call and was still not first in line to see the president on Thursday.
Michaelides, like many other students attending the event, missed a full day of classes to be present for the Obama’s speech.
“I have only skipped classes twice in my career—once for Neil deGrasse Tyson, and once for Obama,” Michaelides said. “If those aren’t valid reasons, I don’t know what is.”