AUSTIN (KXAN) — On stage, President Barack Obama spoke about the economy, the actions his administration has taken to help the middle class, and the challenges that lie ahead getting Americans out of the unemployment line and into new jobs.
But for many of the people in the crowd, he could have been talking about tiddlywinks and it still would not have dampened their excitement.
“It is a bucket list thing,” said Russell Cole who waited with his younger brother in a line that wrapped around the Paramount Theater. “Presidents are like collector items. See as many as you can.”
Most Americans will experience their president through news reports, political ads and fiery debates, so the chance to be able and say “I saw the President speak,” is a claim too good to pass up for many of those in attendance.
Kaleigh Falin also was not going to let the opportunity to slip regardless of name, party, or place.
“If it was any president, I would have come,” Falin said. “But, I really do love Obama.”
Many of the people attending the President’s speech waited hours in two different lines; one to get a ticket and another to get inside the theater.
While serving in the military during the 1990’s, John Taylor got to hear President Bill Clinton speak in-person. Now years later, he wanted his son Cameron to experience the same thing.
“You don’t get many opportunities to see the president,” Taylor said. “I figured my son would cherish it for the rest of his life.”
Just being there is a big enough thrill for most, but others relished an even closer encounter with the Commander-in-Chief.
After the conclusion of the speech, President Obama shook hands with many along the first few rows of the Paramount. Sheri Alexander wanted to be able to boast about a presidential handshake.
“I hopped over a seat or two or four,” said Alexander.
Nathan Hekman and Andrea Rodriguez can now share their brush with Obama with the whole world.
“We were in about the fourth row and we had to push our way up to the front,” said Hekman about the effort required to pull off the presidential selfie they no doubt will be sharing on social media.
They, like everyone else in the crowd, can now say “I was there.”