President Barack Obama bounded on stage Wednesday with a smile and a message for the thousands jammed into the events center on the Auraria Campus.
The excitement had built throughout the snowy morning as students and supporters waited in a line that formed around midnight and stretched from the campus center clear to Speer Blvd. Once inside, University of Colorado Denver students and others were screened and funneled into the gym, filling bleachers and standing on the hardwood floors. A band played up front under a large American flag.
As they waited, some people entertained themselves by singing along. At one point, they even did the wave. When Obama took the stage, the audience was thrilled to finally see their president.
“You guys are coming of age at a time of profound change,” Obama said.
He explained the jobs bill he’s looking to pass and, more importantly, his new plan to help students repay their loans.
“What’s your future?” he asked.
“Obama!” someone shouted, and the crowd erupted in laughter and applause.
“College isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future. It’s one of the best investments America can make in our future,” said Obama.
He shared his and his wife’s own struggle to pay off their law school debt.
After his speech, Obama waded into the crowd and greeted people while Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Governor John Hickenlooper did the same nearby.
The audience flowed out of the gym energized, with one man chanting, `Obama! Obama!’ as he headed into the cold.
“It’s always fun to see him speak,” said Matt Derrington, 21, a junior studying Political Science and Communication at CU Denver. He’s seen Obama speak several times and says he’s always impressed with the message.
Derrington said Wednesday’s address was especially relevant.
“I like that it was student-oriented,” he said.
Sonia Muniz, a returning CU Denver student working toward a degree in Business Management, wanted to see how Obama would address important struggles in America.
“A lot of people are unemployed,” she said. “That’s the problem that needs fixing right now.”
General Manager of the Denver Nuggets Masai Ujiri was also there.
“Great speech,” he said, as he left the gym. “I think he’s doing the right thing.”