Published Wed, Sep 14, 2011 9:01 am Dateline
More than 3,200 people erupted in cheers and booming applause as President Barack Obama mounted the stage at Fort Hayes high school in Columbus. Spectators leapt from their seats or stood on their tiptoes to get a glimpse of the leader of the free world.
“Now we’re rock ’n’ rollin’,” shouted a woman from the crowd, as another plopped her grandson on the metal rail for a better look.
Among those present were many young people, eager to hear the man they admired inspire hope that there might be a chance for jobs.
“He’s giving me hope,” said Tiffany Randolph, 27. “I wanted to hear there could be jobs for me.”
In her last year studying marketing at Franklin University, Randolph is getting nervous about finding a job when she graduates and hopes the American Jobs Act will work in her favor.
Randolph supported Obama in 2008, among the 61 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 who voted for him, according to exit polls. He captured 66 percent of the youth vote across the country that year, according to the Pew Research Center.
But as the 2012 election looms, Obama’s support from young voters is slipping as the unemployment rate escalates.
In June, youth’s approval ratings of the president dropped to 56 percent, according to an Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll.
“Every child deserves a great school, and we can give it to them,” Obama said. “We can create good jobs for construction workers, teachers, unemployed veterans and young people.”
Randolph’s hopes were elevated when Obama spoke of who would benefit from this act.
“We want to help young people find a job next summer,” Obama said.
He was met with cheers and chanting, “pass this bill.”
While Chanel Jack, 18, will vote for Obama in 2012, she’s concerned his sagging support will hurt his chances at re-election.
“He’s been fighting for reforms, but (Congress) is not letting him go through with it,” said Jack, who is studying for her Associate of Arts at Columbus State Community College. “I think people should give him a break.”
This year will be Jack’s first time filling out a presidential election ballot, and she said she’s excited it’s Obama.
Kazi Hurt, a 24-year-old esthetician, was relieved to hear the president was trying to fix unemployment in Ohio and across the country.
Ohio’s unemployment rate currently stands at 9 percent, while the country’s falls almost in line with 9.1 percent.
“He’s right, people need jobs,” Hurt said. “It’s sad that people are struggling.”
Hurt said Obama’s “for-the-people” mentality is why she plans to vote for him.
Alex Stuckey is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau.