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Sandy Rains Out Joe and Michelle Steps In

Sandy Rains Out Joe and Michelle Steps In

By Lili Martinez

Following the cancellation of Vice President Joe Bidens Tuesday campaign stop in Gambier, students did not have long to mourn before they received a message from the Office of Public Affairs. First Lady Michelle Obama will visit Gambier on Saturday for a campaign event in the Kenyon Athletic Center [KAC], the email said.

Doors will open at 4:00 p.m., according to an email from the Obama campaign.

Initially, we freaked out, President of the Kenyon Democrats Sarah Marnell 13 said. We called our field organizer and she was like, yeah, shes coming, I know nothing else. We just found out some more details [Wednesday] morning, and now were back on track.
Few details have been released about Obamas appearance other than the place and time of the event.

Marnell and Sydney Watnick 14, vice president of the Kenyon Democrats, had been working since last Friday to plan Bidens scheduled visit. Along with Bidens advance team, they prepared the KAC for his arrival and organized ticket distribution all day Saturday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 28.

I dont really know how we did it, Watnick said. This weekend feels very surreal to me.

On Sunday, they were also tasked with recruiting 70 volunteers to staff the event. Watnick and Marnell had to pull together the list of volunteers in just 12 hours so the Obama campaign could perform background checks.

Throughout the weekend, they also organized lists of canvassers to knock on doors in Mount Vernon in conjunction with the Obama campaign. We were doing two things at once, Watnick said. There was a lot of calling, emailing and texting people non-stop. When things got really desperate, I sat in the atrium of the library between the two doors with my computer and asked people as they walked in and out if they would volunteer to help.

That frenzy of activity and preparation continued until Monday, when the Kenyon Democrats heard Bidens trip had been canceled due to weather.

Watnick said when she found out the campaign had canceled the event, she was initially disappointed. But she realized the effort the Kenyon Democrats had put in wasnt for nothing. I dont regret a single minute of the time that I put in, because this shows me that there are 200 people out there who are willing to give the time to put on this event, she said. And there are 70 people who were going to give six or seven hours starting at 8:00 a.m. on a Tuesday to sit in the KAC for a long time. Joe or no Joe, theres an election to win.

Watnick and Marnell decided to focus on using the lists of volunteers they had compiled to recruit canvassers for the four days before Election Day. They signed over 100 students up to travel to Columbus on Saturday and Sunday to canvass.

The Public Affairs email announcing Michelle Obamas campaign event, which was sent at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, took the Kenyon Democrats completely by surprise.

The group was ready to respond, and they began to organize for a second time, drawing on resources they already had close at hand. We already have people to staff the event; theyre the same people who were going to do the Biden event, Marnell said. Now I feel like were at the same place we were three days before Biden was coming.

The Kenyon Democrats plan to distribute tickets to the new event today between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. at the Bookstore for anyone who did not get a ticket to see Biden, or who didnt keep their ticket after the event was canceled. An email sent to members of the media by the Obama campaign said tickets from Bidens canceled event at the College of Wooster would also be honored at the First Ladys event at Kenyon on Saturday.

But in an email, the Kenyon Democrats said even those who still have Biden tickes should get new ones to avoid confusion.

We have so many people who want to be involved, who understand how tight this election is going to be, how urgent this is, Watnick said. Its amazing, its crazy, and I think Im going to remember this for the rest of my life.

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