President speaks at CSU rally, visits West Side Market

6:50 PM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND --  President Barack Obama made a campaign stop at Cleveland State University Friday afternoon. The President arrived on Air Force One at Hopkins at 1:25 p.m.

He spoke outside in a steady rain for about 19 minutes on Krenzler Field, Cleveland State University's soccer field.

He addressed today's jobs report from the Labor Department, showing unemployment at its lowest since he took office in January 2009.

He also asked the crowd -- estimated at 9,000 by the Cleveland fire marshal -- if they were registered to vote.

Early voting began Tuesday; letters spelling out "VOTE EARLY" dotted a top row of bleachers to the president's right.

Many in the crowd wore rain ponchos that apparently were handed out by CSU or the campaign.

Krenzler Field is artificial turf, avoiding a muddy mess.

President Obama continued his recap of Wednesday's debate with Mitt Romney, repeating a joke that Romney is getting tough on Big Bird.

The line is a reference to his opponent's position on funding for PBS. President Obama also put "Sesame Street" character Elmo on notice.

Once back in the motorcade, the President is heading deeper into downtown Cleveland for another stop before returning to Hopkins.

At 3:20 p.m., he arrived for an unannounced stop at the West Side Market in the Ohio City neighborhood.

The West Side Market, at the corner of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The city-owned grand terra cotta and granite building recently underwent a $1 million renovation.

"I think I'll have a smokie while I'm here," he said, as he browsed at a meat stand. He also bought some baked goods at Michelle's Bakery.

"It is no coincidence I'm stopping at Michelle's Bakery," he said, alluding to the first lady's name. The hum of the market, combined with the distance at which poolers were kept, made it impossible to hear what he ordered.

Per the Obama campaign, here's what he bought at the West Side Market: 20 smokies, 1/2 lb of BBQ jerky, 1/2 lb of mild jerky, one piece of pumpkin cheesecake, a Danish butternut loaf and a loaf of zucchini bread.

Some vendors snapped photos. Shoppers and other guests were held behind rope lines, but the President chatted them up, hugging at least one baby as he worked his way through the market.

Not everyone was excited. The vendor at Rolston Poultry grumbled as poolers commented on his chicken display. "Take one home with you," the man said. "I haven't sold anything in 40 minutes."

When the President made his way to Rolston's, he asked how business was. "Terrible since you got here," the vendor said, so he quickly shifted direction to another stand.

The Friday afternoon stop was an unexpected kickoff to centennial West Side Market festivities this weekend.

A traffic-stopping street festival is planned for Sunday -- a rare Sunday when the market will be open -- and will include food by local restaurants and celebrated food trucks.

The market's actual birthday is Nov. 2, a Friday. The gala event will be celebrated Saturday, Nov. 3,  billed as the first day of the market's next century.

The motorcade left the West Side Market at 3:55 p.m., en route for Hopkins airport.


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