Talking politics with Jack Antaramian
If you go:
What: Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden rally
When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Where: Alico Arena, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. in Estero
Tickets: All tickets have been given out. The arena opens at 3 p.m. Public parking is limited, but there is an overflow lot at Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway in Estero. Carpooling is encouraged.
Don’t Bring: Bags are discouraged, and signs and banners aren’t allowed. Please limit personal items.
NAPLES — Forgot to get a ticket for Joe Biden’s rally in Estero this evening? Tough luck.
All tickets for the event have been given out, the Barack Obama campaign said Tuesday night.
Ticketless souls who want to hear the Democrats’ vice presidential pick can stop by Alico Arena before the program starts at 5:30 p.m., but they should know they may not get in, said Adrianne Marsh, a campaign spokeswoman. The arena, which is on the Florida Gulf Coast University campus, holds about 4,500 people.
The rally is part of Biden’s swing through Southwest Florida and comes two days after Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican pick for vice president, fired up a crowd of close to 9,000 people at Germain Arena.
Biden will also attend a Naples fundraiser hosted by developer Jack Antaramian.
The local interest in both campaigns comes at a time when thousands of vacant homes in Lee and Collier counties stand as proof of the region’s economic troubles. Biden will focus his speech on the economy’s woes and its future, according to a campaign statement, and the economy was certainly on the minds of many Democratic volunteers at Alico Arena on Tuesday.
“There’s no jobs, nothing,” said volunteer Tonya Rodreguez of Fort Myers. “It used to be that you could open the Sunday paper and see a book of jobs.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama will look out for the middle class, she said: “He’s going to help the normal people.”
Rodreguez and about 20 other volunteers, students and kids spent the afternoon preparing for the rally, creating signs and slogans (the campaign isn’t allowing homemade banners). As they painted with brush and finger, they cited many goals that made them support Obama, from fixing the troubled economy to restoring respect for the Constitution.
Sitting on the arena’s floor, 10-year-old Jenna Suid of Naples had this to say about the Republican ticket’s position on the environment: “McCain, he doesn’t care about global warming — and Palin, she doesn’t believe it.”
Others said they were also upset by how the Bush administration has, as they saw it, trampled the rule of law.
One was junior Brian Ford, who helped start the university’s Students for Barack Obama club over the summer, and now leads it.
“I want someone who respected the Constitution,” said Ford, who is studying political science and sociology. “I think we’ve had the most secretive administration in a while.”
Volunteer Kelly Lawrence, an English teacher at Edison Community College, cited President Bush’s wiretapping program and the administration’s secretiveness as key problems.
“Without some sort of transparency, we can’t have a democracy,” she said.
Erin Darmody, 19, said the event was the first time she’s been involved with a political campaign.
She’s concerned about where America’s energy will come from in the future, and thinks that Obama and Biden will do better solving that problem than their opponents.
“Joe Biden’s been looking at alternative fuel since forever,” she said, painting a “You go Joe!” sign in broad blue strokes.
She wasn’t voting Democratic without giving the other side a chance — she also tuned into Palin’s rally on Monday.
But parts of it just upset her.
“I don’t really like ‘Drill, baby, drill,’” Darmody said of Palin’s call for off-shore oil rigs. “I was screaming at the TV when she was saying how she wanted to drill.”
Volunteer Joanie Freeman was just happy people seem engaged in their government again: “I think this is the most important election of my 60 years.”