Excitement builds for Obama's Portland visit

Excitement builds for Obama's Portland visit »Play Video
President Barack Obama walks with Oregon gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber after arriving at Portland Air National Guard Station in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Update: President Barack Obama has arrived in Portland. He will be speaking at the Oregon Convention Center soon. Watch it here.


PORTLAND, Ore. – People have been lining up at the Oregon Convention Center all day today in anticipation of the arrival of President Barack Obama who is scheduled to speak in support of gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber at about 6 p.m.

At least one person showed up last night and then returned to get his spot at four Wednesday morning and people have been lining up by the thousands ever since.

From selling buttons and bringing homemade Obama or Kitzhaber items there is no doubt this presidential appearance is creating a huge buzz, and it's why some showed up so early to make sure they got their place in line.

“I never thought we’d have a politician, president who would inspire me like him,” said Tom Spettel, who was one of the first in line. “I figure this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’d be foolish to miss it.”

In addition to Obama fans, protesters have also come to the Oregon Convention Center Wednesday afternoon.

"He's the wrong direction for this country," said Chris Rubin, a member of the tea party movement. "He does nothing but spend our money as if it's going out of style."

The idea for the president’s visit is to energize Democrats who don't seem very motivated this election, to get them excited and push them to turn in their ballots.

President Obama is known for being a man who can inspire crowds with his speeches much like he did at the Portland Waterfront in May 2008.

However, since he's become president, Obama's approval rating has plummeted. But Kitzhaber said he doesn’t think Obama’s visit will backfire.

"He's the President of the United States. He's still a big draw. We have 4,000 people showing up at the Coliseum on very short notice. We're very excited to be here with him,” he said.

According to a recent SurveyUSA poll, 47 percent of all Oregon voters approve of the job President Obama is doing compared to 51 percent who disapprove. But among Oregon Democrats 69 percent approve of the job the president is doing compared to just 29 percent who disapprove.

If President Obama can motivate Democrats, especially a lot of younger and first-time voters to get out there and vote, the thinking by political experts is this will help Kitzhaber.

Meanwhile, Kitzhaber’s opponent, Republican Chris Dudley, is campaigning in Eastern Oregon today.

He did, however, publish an open letter to President Obama in The Oregonian this morning. In it he applauds Obama for his efforts to reform education.

"I share your commitment to education reform and to creating incentives for school districts. And teachers to innovate and improve student achievement," Dudley wrote.

Bob Tiernan, chairman of Oregon’s Republican Party, said in a way Obama’s visit is good for Republicans.

"His visit has actually been a big boost to Republicans because it's driving people to our call centers and our volunteers are way up," he said.
 
He also said he doesn't think Obama's visit will have any effect come Election Day.