The people leaving UCF’s CFE Arena Friday night after the speech by President Barack Obama ended were happy, and the warm, fervent energy of his speech had energized them. Or at least, it reinforced what they already thought: that it was important for the young people to exercise their vote.
That was one of the main themes of Obama’s speech Friday night: the importance of the youth vote. Especially if it’s for Hillary Clinton, who Obama said was the clear choice in the election for those wanting to continue the advancements made during his eight years in office.
He said it wasn’t quite as important to rally older folks out to the polls because they already know about voting and are usually up for it. But younger people, Obama said, have a longer list of things to do, from college to working multiple jobs, and they sometimes need to be reminded of exactly how important voting is.
Obama also spoke sharply against Donald Trump, saying that while he had strong disagreements with his own opponents, John McCain and Mitt Romney, in his two elections, he never felt that the basic fundamentals of American democracy was threatened under them, either.
Trump, though, worries Obama.
Obama’s powerful oration and impassioned style left the impression he wanted to on those who heard it. People left the stadium feeling like Obama really cared about them and the issues facing America.
“Obama was really passionate about everything, he just talked about the issues I’m interested in,” said attendee Mackenzie Bower. “I think he really spoke to the young people, to make sure they are interested in voting … we have a lot of power. This is my second election. I voted for Obama in 2012, I’m going to be voting for Hillary. I think if the momentum of the younger generation if they were to vote, it would make a difference.”
UCF senior Jacob Howe said he saw Obama’s final 100 days as an exercise in engaging millennials for the future — which he was doing not only through his speech at UCF, but also through numerous Facebook videos and other online engagement that young people might see more.
“I think one of the most defining things about Obama’s presidency has always been the will to engage,” he said. “I think we’re seeing a lot of that in his last 100 days. I really appreciate his engagement, going into this election, I think one of the things that will make or break it is how he can engage the youth.”
“He talks to us like were people, not just voters,” said Valencia College student Rebecca, who then added that she enjoyed the diversity of the crowd.
“It feels like the modern America,” she said.
Another attendee, Lisa Brodsky, said she was glad Obama’s speech had been mostly tailored to the youth adults at UCF.
“I hope everyone goes out to vote,” she said. “The future for America is great.”