Obama rally draws thousands in Madison

Springsteen fires up crowd at rally

Published On: Nov 07 2012 11:58:13 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 06 2012 09:01:08 AM CST

About 18,000 people were on hand for a campaign rally with President Barack Obama in Madison Monday morning, one day ahead of Election Day.

The rally was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which runs from the Capitol to a convention center on the shores of Lake Monona. Several thousand people stood or sat in risers, braving 28-degree temperatures. The crowd estimate was provided by the Madison Fire Department.

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen played four songs and did an impersonation of Obama before introducing the president.

Springsteen played acoustic guitar and harmonica and opened with "No Surrender" followed by "The Promised Land," "Four More Years" and "Land of Hope and Dreams."

Springsteen said that after Obama ran on an optimistic message of change in 2008 he now faces "a world that challenges your hopefulness."

The president made a case for a second term.

"Because of the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is coming to a close. Al Qaida is on the path to defeat; Osama bin Laden is dead. We've made progress these last four years," Obama said.

Obama's message focused on getting supporters out to vote and getting them to bring more people to the polls.

"Wisconsin, that's why I need your vote. And if you're willing to work with me again, and knock on some doors with me, make some phone calls for me, turn out for me, we'll win Wisconsin. We'll win this election. We'll finish what we started," Obama said.

Obama also compared his administration to the Clinton administration and said the policies of both administrations were proven to work.

The Obama campaign strongly emphasized early voting.

"Most of the people I know have already voted. I'll have to scrounge up a few," said Barbara Rottman, of Fitchburg.

The Obama campaign has 65 campaign offices and more than 5,000 staging locations to get out the vote planned for Tuesday.

"I'm going to be getting up at 7 in the morning and knocking on doors till 7:59 p.m. to get people out to the polls. It's really important, and if we do that, we'll get Wisconsin moving the right way," said Prem Shunmugavelu, of Madison.

Lisa Tiedemann of Madison bounced up and down to stay warm. She said she did volunteer phone canvassing for Obama and was thrilled to be part of the rally, which she called a victory celebration.

Springsteen and Obama were both also slated to appear in Columbus, Ohio, and Des Moines, Iowa, later Monday.

"This is the last day I'll ever campaign," Obama said. 

The president's visit affected many throughout the downtown area.

Shana Lewis' workplace at 10 East Doty Street is located about a half a block from where the rally was held.

Because of security measures, Lewis had to keep her blinds drawn and stay clear of the windows.

"We were not allowed to park in our ramp underneath the building," Lewis said. "So I carpooled into downtown with a friend whose ramp was open."

Traffic was an early concern for downtown commuters, but many said there were fairly minimal delays from the president's rally.