ARTICLE

Faces and voices from Obama's Cedar Rapids audience

President Barack Obama greets people after speaking at Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
President Barack Obama greets people after speaking at Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Theresa Meeks-Mosley, 47, Iowa City, got tickets to the event from a friend and brought her daughter Kiva, 7. Meeks-Mosley, a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom, was an Obama volunteer in 2008, "but so far I'm on the fence. I'm hoping to hear some things today that make me want to jump back on board again."

Before Obama's speech, she wanted to hear about a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan: "That's a big thing for me, because we're spending so much."

Andrew Caton, 24, Cedar Rapids, a support representative for GoDaddy in Hiawatha ("I help people with their web sites") wanted to hear about increased support for the space program (but didn't expect to hear it).  "I just wanted to come out to see him. I'd never seen a president before."

Voted for Obama in '08, now "somewhat disappointed....He's been hampered by the opposition" in Congress. Does Caton see a Republican alternative? "Not really."

After Obama's speech:

Elizabeth Tabor, 18, a senior at Maquoketa High School and a member of the volleyball team, got the president's autograph on a team poster. During a visit to northeast Iowa in August, Obama surprised the team with an unscheduled pop-in visit, so he's on their poster, too: "I just thought it was inspiring." Tabor watched Tuesday night's State of the Union, and "he reiterated a lot of points."

"He seems like a very nice guy. It's hard to get a sense of a person like that, but it was so nice of him to stop at our school."

The poster? "I'm going to frame it."

Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran: "I don't want anybody who was here today to tell me they can't get behind working for Obama between now and November. He gave us all reasons to do that."

On Obama's reference to the June 2008 flood and the city's recovery from it: "We have a couple of FEMA issues that still need to be dealt with."

Obama had a campaign visit scheduled days after the flood, but his staff called and asked if they should postpone it: "All my emergency people were busy. I told them that it would be very much appreciated (to cancel)..he was attentive about what our needs would be because of the flood, and the needs of our emergency personnel."

Randy Lovell, 49, Prairieburg, Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing worker since 1998, had the day off but came in to see the president: "I thought it was great, because it's a once-in-a-lifetime deal." When the word went out Obama was coming to the plant "I couldn't believe it at first."

Reaction to speech? "I thought it was all good, about the taxes going down." Lovell voted for Obama in 2008.How's business? "It's slow right now, but we're keeping busy."

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