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People gather to get tickets for Biden stop

This news story was published on September 17, 2012.
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William Smith, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

About 25 people gathered around the entrance to the Port of Burlington building Saturday morning, patiently waiting to grab a free ticket to see Vice President Joe Biden speak in the same building Monday afternoon.

Tickets also were handed out at the Organizing for America offices in Fort Madison and Keokuk, and more than 20 people gathered at the OFA office in Burlington to get their tickets at the same time. Campaign officials could not divulge how many tickets were given away Saturday or how many tickets are remaining.

The wait wasn’t very long at either location, but two hard-core Democrats arrived at the Port of Burlington more than an hour ahead of the distribution time. Tickets were handed out at 10 a.m., and Richard Lemke, 31, of Burlington arrived at the port building at 8:30 a.m.

“I thought there would be more people,” he said.

There was only one person ahead of him. Ronda Hennings, 53, of Mount Pleasant got to the port at 8:05 a.m. and spent the next hour-and-a-half watching seagulls by the river. Her political beliefs were summed up her T-shirt, which read, “Staunch Liberal.”

“I’ve always been a liberal. Here I am at 53, I’ve been out of high school for 35 years, and we’re still having the same argument over Roe v. Wade, because (Republicans) want to stop Planned Parenthood,” she said. “They don’t think women should have a right over what happens over their own bodies. This is ridiculous. Why are we even looking at going backwards?”

Hennings works as a bath aide for the Nurse in the House program provided by Optimae Life Services, so health care is a big issue for her. In fact, it’s the primary issue.

“I take care of the poor. I take care of the sick. I see how they struggle. I know they can’t go to this voucher system,” she said.

Hennings hasn’t seen President Barack Obama or Biden in person and figured it was about time. Her admiration for the Obama administration is only matched by her disdain for past Republican presidents.

“When (President Ronald) Reagan was in office, I was married at that time, and I was a farmer, and we went bankrupt under his policies,” she said. “I am better off than I was four years ago.”

Lemke, another lifelong Democrat, set off a Facebook fire storm when he posted he was waiting in line for a Biden ticket. His phone dinged every time someone responded to the post. Some of the replies slammed Republicans, and some slammed Democrats.

“I’m just ignoring my phone now,” he said with a laugh.

Lemke doesn’t come from a political family, and as far as he knows, none of his family members have ever voted. But Lemke got interested in politics when he was 16 and made a conscious decision to study both parties to see which one he liked best.

Since many of his friends are gay, Lemke went with the Democrats.

“I had the chance to see President Obama in 2008 when he ran, but I’ve never seen Biden,” he said.

Tony Good of Burlington arrived at the OFA office about 9:15 a.m. to pick up his ticket. Good works for Champion Spark Plug and is part of the United Auto Workers Union Local 1237, and has been voting Democrat his whole life.

“This administration helped greatly in the auto recovery, which put a fresh breath in Champion Spark Plug,” he said.

Heather Richie, 36, of Burlington was picking up two tickets – one for herself,and one for her 14-year-old son, Gavin. Though campaign officials initially said only one person could pick up one ticket, that rule was slackened Saturday.

“(Gavin) wanted to see Obama, but he said Biden would be second best,” Richie said.

Richie has voted Democratic most of her life, and when her son started getting interested in politics, she wanted to do everything she could to encourage him.

“I watch the news a lot, and I watch ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ a lot, and he watches that with me. It’s something that has struck a chord with him. I want to give him every chance to build on that,” she said.

Mona Grimes, 60, of New London also is going to see Biden for the first time and wants to hear what he has to say about Social Security and Medicare. But religion is just as big an issue for her.

“I’m just sick of the right wing trying to use legislation to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us. I could not support any party like that,” she said.

Biden will speak at 3:20 p.m. Monday at the Port of Burlington, and the doors will open at 1 p.m.

Tickets also will be given away today, starting at 10 a.m. at the OFA office at 900 Osborn St., Burlington, the OFA office at 827 Avenue H, Fort Madison, and the OFA office at 401 Main St., Keokuk. Campaign officials said people may pick up two tickets at a time today.

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One Response to People gather to get tickets for Biden stop

  1. Bobby G Reply Report comment

    September 17, 2012 at 2:00 am

    I wonder how many of them were white?