The sleepy central Virginia college town, Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, welcomed President Barack Obama as he cashed-in his local popularity to boost the re-election campaign of 5th district Congressman Tom Perriello. Perriello is in a fierce re-election bid for his congressional seat with Republican challenger, Robert Hurt. Perriello’s 2010 election would signal a ideological shift in regional politics. In the past, area residents generally supported Republican candidates.
Obama fever once gain gripped the town’s residents on October 29, 2010. Unusual scenes around town included the President’s security personnel perched high atop the town’s visitor center roof — a spot normally claimed by errant pigeons. City officials closed roads immediately accessible to the downtown area where the political rally took place. Piedmont Virginia Community College, located a short distance from the venue, closed at 3 p.m. Several thousand supporters snaked around the town’s open-air mall and waited more than five hours to get a glimpse of the President.
Friday was not the first time Obama took Charlottesville by a storm. The President has a proven track record of being able to convince Virginians to see vote Democrat, in spite of the state’s conservative leanings. Two years ago to the date, in the same location, the downtown mall pavilion, Obama delivered a rousing campaign speech that won him the town and, ultimately, Virginia’s 13 electoral votes. First Lady Michelle Obama, also no stranger to small-town Virginia politics, campaigns frequently in the state, often choosing more subdued, secure venues such as college campuses.