IU students in D.C. recognize change in Obama's rhetoric from campaign trail


IU juniors Andrew and David Murto look at the Capitol after Obama's speech Tuesday afternoon in Washington. Yossi May Buy Photos

WASHINGTON – Anna Strand had seen Barack Obama speak before, but since then, something changed.

“He incorporated his message of hope into an application of what he’s going to do as president,” the senior, who is president of IU College Democrats, said. “He was not saying ‘if I’m going to be president,’ just saying, ‘I am your president now.’”

Strand, who traveled to Washington with other members of IU College Democrats, was one of many IU students watching the inauguration in person Tuesday who said they know they were watching what will be remembered as a historic event.

Sophomore Claudia Torres, who traveled with a group from Foster International Living-Learning Center, said she thought Obama alluded to acts of bravery from different groups, such as firemen and soldiers, to make everyone feel connected to the speech.

She said the address was more solemn than she expected – a change from the fast-paced shouts of “Yes we can!” that she’d been used to hearing.

“He wants to make everyone realize that we are facing a lot of challenges, and it will take time,” Torres said. “But if we work together, we can make it all happen.”

Obama’s message was about putting differences aside and working together, said freshman Jordan Runkel, who also traveled with the Foster group.

Runkel said she voted Republican, but she said she appreciates the historic significance of what she witnessed in person.

“I didn’t think that our nation would ever elect a black man as president,” Runkel said. “They proved me wrong.”

Obama’s speech often alluded to the hard work needed to accomplish what needs to be done, something Strand said that, as the first black president, he is living proof of.

“This is a moment in history,” Strand said. “He was sworn in on the same Bible that Lincoln was sworn in on. This is an absolute landmark moment.”

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