Obama rally draws Minneapolis mayor, student opposition

By Zac Farber

The mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, and an Iraq War veteran touted Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as the best candidate to be the next president of the United States. But five anti-Obama students stole the spotlight Tuesday afternoon at a rally co-sponsored by the Obama campaign and Mac for Obama, a student organization.As soon as Rybak stepped into the John B. Davis Lecture Hall, where about 80 people
attended the rally, the Obama protesters, led by Brendan Rogers ’10, commandeered the stage. They wore colorful suits and dresses, and one protester held a sign that read, “Billionaires for Obama.”

In character, Rogers said that he and his billionaire friends supported Obama because his support for the war would make them rich through defense contracts.

Obama’s willingness to send troops to Pakistan and his continued support for funding of the Iraq War prove that he is not the anti-war candidate he claims to be, as he claims publicly, according to a pamphlet distributed by Rogers and the four other protesters.

“We believe that Barack Obama is not anti-war,” Rogers said. “His record shows that and we believe that he is trying to co-opt the anti-war movement to get elected.”

Rybak sat respectfully on stage during the protest.

After the brief performance, the rally continued as planned.

One speaker, Allan Branstiter, a former sergeant and Iraq War veteran, painted a different picture of Obama. He commended Obama’s consistent political opposition to the war, and, in a twenty-minute speech, called Obama a “solitary voice that [in the lead up to the war] kept asking America to slow down” before invading Iraq.

“The dumbest thing I’ve heard is ‘Thank God George Bush is our president,'” Branstiter said to loud applause.

Rybak followed with a speech praising Obama’s ethical character and his concrete timetable to end the war.

“No one else in 50 years has had the moral gravity and the ability to articulate [a vision for America] as well as Barack Obama,” Rybak said.

Many of those in attendance supported Obama.

“America needs someone who understands the world and who can bring this global perspective to lead a world superpower in the 21st century,” said Amrit Sharma, a junior at Hamline University who attended the event.

The rally was scheduled to be held on Bateman Plaza but was moved to the campus center auditorium because of rain.

Contributing Writer Varini Sharma contributed reporting.