President Barack Obama came looking for his encore in Columbus Monday.
But before he spoke to the crowd of about 15,500 at Nationwide Arena, Bruce Springsteen and rapper Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, took up his fight.
Springsteen wrote a campaign song for the president, and Jay-Z incorporated his lyrics into encouragements for the crowd to vote for Obama once again.
“Can (he) get an encore? Do you want more?” Jay-Z sang.
And Obama, who took the stage just after 4:30 p.m., said it was an honor to have both the singers with him on the same day.
“Not only are they all on my iPod, and yes the president has an iPod, but it’s also because they both tell an American story,” Obama said. “They tell the story of what our country is but also what it should be and what it can be.”
Jay-Z had most in the arena on their feet and they didn’t sit down when Obama began speaking of the change he has made and the battles he still needs to win.
“I’m not ready to give up on the fight,” he said. “I’ve got a whole lot of fight left in me and I hope you do too.”
After having visited Ohio State five times in the last two years and swarming a city with one of the biggest universities in the nation, Obama said one of the things he was unwilling to compromise on is the cost of a college education.
“If the fight in Washington is going to kick students off of financial aid … that’s not a price I’m willing to pay,” he said. “That’s not change, that’s surrender.”
Obama brushed on the dire state of the economy when he took office, calling it the “worst” economic situation in a generation and the wars America was fighting in 2008. But now, he said, the economy has turned around, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over and ending, Osama bin Laden is dead and al-Qaida is almost defeated.
However, he said he still needs to cut tuition hikes, ensure politicians aren’t making health-care decisions women can make themselves, and secure equal opportunities for everyone.
“We’ve made real progress, Ohio, but the reason we’re here is because we’ve still got work to do,” he said. “As long as there are families anywhere in the country that can work hard but fall behind … our fight goes on.”
Springsteen said during his performance that he came from a working-class family, and Obama talked about Jay-Z’s rise from the projects in New York. Obama said he wants to continue fighting for children with dreams like Jay-Z and Springsteen once had.
“All those kids in inner cities and farm towns, in those Ohio valleys … they need a champion in Washington because the future is what we’re fighting for,” he said. “The dreams of those children will be a saving grace.”
Obama said that after four years, Americans, and Ohioans specifically, should know that he will move the country forward.
“You know that I know what real change looks like because you’ve seen me fight for it,” he said. “I’ve got the scars to prove it. I’ve got the gray hairs to prove it.”
Republican presidential nominee Romney also spent his last day of campaigning in Ohio. He spoke at 6 p.m. near the Port Columbus International Airport with The Marshall Tucker Band, who performed before his speech.
With all eyes on Ohio, some campaigners flocked to the heart of it all to volunteer.
“There’s a big group of us that came in from (Washington) D.C. on Friday night,” said Hogan Medlin, 23, a volunteer for the Obama campaign. “We knew this was the state to win.”
Medlin plans to spend Election Day volunteering at the polls. Medlin, who also followed Obama’s 2008 campaign closely, said this was the most fired up rally he’s been to.
“I’ve been to a lot of rallies in my life,” he said. “I turned around to my friend and said, ‘This is by far the … most hype.”
Brittney Summers, 24, said she has been following the campaign trail around Ohio and was amazed at the turn out of Monday’s rally.
“It got me fired up,” she said. “I thought it was a happy medium – you could catch some of the older people (with Springsteen) and bring in some of the younger people (with Jay-Z).”
But Medlin wasn’t entirely convinced it was Jay-Z and Springsteen that had Monday’s crowd so enthused.
Maybe it’s because this is Ohio,” he said. “And Ohio is the tell-tale state in this election.”
According to The Dispatch Poll in The Columbus Dispatch, the numbers are still close between Obama and Romney. As of Nov. 4, Obama is leading Ohio 50 percent to Romney’s 48 percent with a 2.2 percent margin of error.