Thousands of people are on hand at McArthur High School for President Barack Obama.
They've been waiting for hours.
And the event is just getting underway.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat who represents part of South Broward, delivered the first warmup speech.
“When we do our job, we will knock it out of the park in Broward, giving Barack Obama the margin to win Florida…. When we win Florida, it’s game over for Mitt Romney," Wilson said.
Still to come, speeches from former Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Commitee.
Then the president.
Cuban-American rap star Pitbull is addressing the crowd. He's even wearing a suit.
Much of the crowd raised hands when asked by one speaker whether they’d voted already. They were urged to tell friends to vote for Obama.
The greatest cheers so far have been for former Gov. Charlie Crist, and for the president. When the crowd got a peek at the arriving fleet of black vehicles, one of which carried Obama, they screamed and cheered.
Obama got a big cheer during his speech when he said the words, "And Osama Bin Laden is dead.''
As he concluded his speech, the song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’’ played, and Obama smoved slightly the beat, mouthing the lyrics “ewww, baby.’’
He came down from the podium and pressed into the crowd, giving fist bumps and hugs and handshakes, and stopping briefly to chat when he got to U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wesserman Schultz, D-Weston.
“Nice hat!’’ he told a little boy in an Uncle Sam tophat.
The crowd jostled to touch him, the Secret Service pulling their arms off him with every hug and hand on his shoulder.
Afterwards, Miramar Democrat Mary Robinson was speechless.
“I am just, I can’t find words,’’ the 66-year-old said. “I don’t know. I looked at him and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, he’s a gift. He’s a gift.’ “
Robinson said she has two daughters and two granddaughters, and Obama’s stance on women’s issues connects with her.
“I look at the babies and I think, ‘How can this be? How can their rights be taken away?’ I grew up in the 60s. We fought for those rights.’’
That was one of the premier issues for Amanda Rodriguez, 25, a registered Republican from Pembroke Pines who said her decision to vote for Obama ‘’wasn’t automatic.’’
A single mom and college student, her child on Medicaid, she said she didn’t feel “the Republican Party is listening to me.’’
She liked what he said Sunday, telling voters promises he’d kept, she said, and laying out “what he’s going to do in the future.’’
David Shedroff, a former Environmental Protection Agency lawyer, 87, and his son, David Shedroff, a computer programmer, drove up from Miami Beach to see the president they “love.’’
The younger Shedroff gushed over Obama, saying he understands the working class, the need for affordable health insurance, and has an emphasis on education and teachers.
“The teachers where my kids go to school are always taking money out of their own pocket to buy things,’’ he said. “Education is the future for all of us.’’
Thousands of people lined up to see President Barack Obama at McArthur High School on Sunday morning.
The line extended about 10 city blocks about mid-day Sunday. Traffic was backed up from Hollywood Boulevard to Fillmore Street.
Doors opened about 12:30 p.m. and people continued to get in line after 2 p.m. The sun was beating down on the line and a few people were carried away on stretchers.
Obama is campaigning in Florida for the last time before Tuesday's election.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is squeezing in one last visit to Central Florida Monday, while First Lady Michelle Obama will rally support for her husband in south Orange County the same day.
It will be Romney's fourth visit to Central Florida in as many weeks. ¿
The details of the President’s visit were finalized Thursday night, McArthur football coach Andrew Rhoden said Friday.
“It’s a monumental thing to have the President of the United States speak at your school and your football field,” Rhoden told the Sun Sentinel.
“It’s tremendous for the program and the kids just to have that experience and opportunity to see the President firsthand. A lot of people go through their lives never seeing the President in person.”
Rhoden said his players were “real pumped” when they heard about it and “it really motivated them.”
“It’s like it turned on a switch for our boys,” Rhoden said of the announcement regarding the President’s visit. “It really pumped them up.”
Rochelle Brandison of Sunrise said she had to be here.
“I needed to see him, just in case it was the last time he was president,’’ she said. “Nothing is guaranteed, and we don’t know.’’
Brandison said she’d already filled in the ballot oval for Obama.
“I have faith in him. I think he’s done well. It’s not an overnight thing considering the mess he found,’’ she said. “I have faith in him.’’
The 80 degree South Florida sun made the weight a sweaty one.
Along the way, they could hear the shouts of “Collllld water!’’’ from those who showed up with coolers and the hope of earning some cool cash.
Eric Richardson of El Portal, an Obama supporter, stationed himself on a corner and sold T-shirts, buttons and hats all morning. He said the event meshed his activism with his financial needs. An Occupy Miami member, he’d been living rent-free in Peace City in Miami, but now needed to start earning his own way.
“I started as an organizer for Obama,’’ he said.
Among his buttons: “Ridin’ with Biden,’’ “Once you vote black you never go back,’’ and, he said, a sold-out version that advertised “Sluts for Obama.’’
“They loved that pin over there in Boca,’’ he said.
Across the street from McArthur High was a small group of Romney supporters, many of them holding signs that said “Fire Obama.’’ One handwritten sign said “Obama Weakest Economy Since WW II.’’
Hollywood Police Lt. Manny Marino, who led the local security team, said Hollywood police and fire, plus Pembroke Pines police and some officers from the school board, were patrolling the event. As important as it was to help protect the president of the United States, Marino said they didn’t even have a week’s notice.
“I wish we had a week,’’ he said, then hurried back to his duties.
Heaps of garbage and empty water bottles piled along Hollywood’s sidewalks, from the momentary leap in population.
Around 2:30 p.m., the last of the supporters were streaming in. Leonard Carey of North Lauderdale was walking as fast as he could to be let into the standing-room-only lawn.
“This is like, for me, it’s a historic occasion,’’ he said. “To be a part of a rally with the possible reelection of the first African American president. That’s just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.’’
Carey said he thought Obama did a good job, considering “he’s had a Congress that from Day One has said it was going to resist.’’
Beside him, a T-shirt salesman looking for the end of the line looked at him and said, “I think this is the end.’’
“It’s not the end,’’ Carey shouted back. “It’s the beginning!’’
“That’s right, baby,’’ the man shouted back. “It’s the start of something new.’’
, Staff writers Steve Gorten, Anthony Man, Susan Jacobsen and Scott Powers contributed to this report.
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