President Obama returns to Ohio State for graduation
President gives university's spring commencement address
A year ago Sunday, President Barack Obama went to the heart of the key battleground state of Ohio to officially kick off his re-election campaign with a rally at The Ohio State University.
On the anniversary of that speech, the president returns to the Ohio State campus, this time to deliver the commencement address at the university's spring graduation.
It will be the first of three commencements Obama will attend this graduation season. He will also speak at Morehouse College in Atlanta on May 19, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 24.
The kickoff rally a year ago for Obama was held in Value City Arena, before a crowd that didn't fill all the seats. A far larger crowd is expected Sunday at Ohio Stadium, a short distance away across the Olentangy River.
A crowd of between 60,000 and 70,000 is expected for the graduation, mostly family and friends of the graduating class. More than 10,000 Buckeye seniors get their diplomas, though not all will attend the ceremony.
With extra security in place because of Obama's visit, families are being asked to arrive by 7:30 a.m., more than four hours before Pomp and Circumstance will play as the graduates enter the stadium.
The green field inside the football stadium has been replaced by a white tarp, and nearly the entire field is filled with black chairs.
The quick trip to Columbus comes a day after the president returned to the United States from his visit to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Columbus, and particularly Ohio State, were frequent destinations for Obama during his campaign. This will be his fifth trip to the OSU campus alone in the past 16 months.
He is the third sitting U.S. president to address The Ohio State University's commencement, and the second to do it inside the historic stadium.
Gerald Ford spoke August 30, 1974, in St. John Arena across the street. George W. Bush spoke inside the stadium, nicknamed the Horseshoe, on June 14, 2002.
Some political rivals who have preceded the president to the stage in Columbus include House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, who was the commencement speaker at the stadium two years ago. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, spoke at the 2006 spring commencement, two years before he faced Obama in the presidential election.
At the end of the ceremony, an honorary doctorate will be conferred on the president. Also receiving an honorary degree will be celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. She shot the official Obama family portrait in 2010 and the Vanity Fair cover photos of Obama in 2007 and 2009.
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