Barack Obama launched his campaign in unspectacular fashion today at
Ohio State University, the largest college in the crucial swing state.
A photo posted to twitter by Mitt Romney’s campaign spokesman Ryan Williams reveals sparse attendance. The above image, according to Williams, was taken during the President’s first official campaign speech.
During the speech, Obama ripped into the presumptive GOP nominee and discussed nation building at home, but the most newsworthy item of the day was not the talking points Obama delivered: it was the crowd… or lack thereof. According to ABC News, the Obama campaign had expected an “overflow” of people. Instead, the arena looked half-empty. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Obama organizers even had people move from the seats to the floor of the gym in order to project a larger crowd on television.
According to the Toledo Blade, the venue for Obama’s rally seats 20,000 but “there were a lot of empty seats.” Comparatively, Obama drew a crowd of 35,000 at Ohio State when he campaigned for former Governor Ted Strickland in 2010.
The official Barack Obama Tumblr boasts a figure from ThinkProgress that 14,000 attended the event–70% of the stadium’s seating capacity.
It’s a campaign faux pas to hold an event in a room that isn’t full; to promise the media a more-than-capacity crowd then fall this far short of that promise is utter incompetence. In 2008, Obama ran a near-flawless campaign, buoyed by enthusiasm and effective organizing. But it’s not 2008 any more, and on day one of the 2012 campaign, Team Obama has already made an embarrassing blunder.