photo: President Obama at the podium in The University of Iowa Field House

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President Obama returns to campus to deliver speech

An estimated 3,000 people filled the University of Iowa Field House on March 25 to hear U.S. President Barack Obama talk about the recently passed health care bill.

“It’s good to be back in Iowa,” he told the crowd. Obama last visited campus in the spring of 2007 as a candidate for president. His March speech was the first campus visit by a sitting president in 14 years, according to University archivist David McCartney. President Bill Clinton spoke on campus in 1996, while running for his second term, and in 2003, two years after leaving the White House. Former President Jimmy Carter delivered a University lecture in 2007. President George W. Bush never lectured on campus, but he did visit the area after the devastating floods of June 2008.

While Obama’s visit last month drew many supporters from across the state, UI officials also made provisions for people to express alternative views. The night before Obama’s speech, opponents of the health care bill held a rally on the Pentacrest. And on the day of the visit, signs and placards, both in favor and against the legislation, lined the streets leading up to the Field House. An individual in the audience shouted his concern during Obama’s speech that the bill didn’t go far enough to ensure universal health care coverage.

Before Obama’s arrival at the Field House, several members of the University community spoke and sang. The Rev. Marsha Acord, president of the UI Association of Campus Ministers, gave the invocation. Jacob Rosenberg, a junior from Ames, Iowa, majoring in political science and ethics and public policy, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. UI senior Julian Vandervelde, a Davenport native and starting offensive guard for the Hawkeye football team, sang the national anthem, accompanied on violin by Miss Iowa 2009, Anne Michael Langguth. Intersection, a campus a capella group, also performed several songs.

To see a video of the speech, go to The University of Iowa on YouTube page.

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© The University of Iowa 2009