WATERLOO, Iowa --- Not everyone who wanted a ticket to see the president Tuesday night got one. But many on the outside looking in said they still felt the draw and wanted to be close.
And maybe, just maybe, catch a glimpse of Barack Obama.
“I love this guy. I’ve wanted to see this guy for a long time,” said Lori Sliekers of La Porte City. “Here’s my chance.”
She and several hundred other people waited, mingled and hoped, in some cases more than six hours.
“Golly, I’ll fall over even if we get a glance,” said Janice Blake of Waterloo.
Four grandchildren accompanied Blake downtown, and for a while they hung out near the intersection of Commercial and West Third streets.
Already heavily invested, Patricia Saffold of Waterloo did not mind dedicating a few more hours to achieving her ultimate goal.
She was nearly first in line Saturday for tickets to President Obama’s campaign stop in Waterloo. And she showed up before 3 p.m. Tuesday to be among the first 40 people outside the RiverLoop Amphitheatre.
“I just want to shake his hand and get a nice little picture,” Saffold said.
The opportunity was historic for her personally.
“This is the first time I’ve seen the president, so I am like way excited,” she said.
LaJuana Hicks of Waterloo, though, was a bit ahead of Saffold in line, passing the time with her 1-year-old daughter, Kassadie.
Hicks and her daughter got in line about 2 p.m. and the logic was not complicated.
“To make sure I get in to get a seat and to see my president,” Hicks said.
Corine Jones and a cousin, Diane Wise, both of Waterloo, were just as enthusiastic but not as fortunate. They waited several hours but organizers had run out of tickets before Jones and Wise got to the front of the line Saturday.
Their optimism remained, though, and they were scouting out vantage points where a view of the president might be possible.
“That’s why we’re here early, to scope out the landscape,” Wise said.
“I hope to get a good spot so I can hear what he’s saying,” Jones added. “I voted for him, and my plan is to vote for him again this year.”
Al Clark of Cedar Falls was nearby but less enchanted. He displayed a pair of signs that read, in part, “You’re fired” and “Liar in Chief.” A like-minded individual joined him later in the evening, but for most of the day Clark was a one-man protest.
“I seved my country — Army, 10 years — I earned the right,” he said.
Despite obvious disdain for the president’s policies, Clark said he generally got a civil reception from passersby.
“Actually, it’s been very positive. Of course, there’s been a few comments and hand gestures thrown my way,” he said.
Not everyone was tuned into the day’s events ahead of time. Anna Smith of Cedar Falls turned 18 recently and wanted to mark the occasion with a tattoo. She and her parents rolled up to Eternal Ink, 314 Commercial St., moments after the president’s motorcade, which featured dozens of patrol cars, black SUVs, buses and ambulances.
“I didn’t know what’s going on,” Smith said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, he’s coming?’ I didn’t know it’s today.”
Chad Babinat works at Eternal Ink, which is barely a block from the amphitheatre. He said the president’s visit, all the security measures and traffic disruptions did not alter his day much.
“I think it’s worse when My Waterloo Days is on. I guess the feds are a little more organized,” Babinat said.
Will Hanson of Hudson also took in the scene from outside. He missed out on tickets but was willing to settle for a favorable position. But that did not happen either.
“I used to live eight blocks from (Riverfront) stadium. I could hear them better,” he said, referring to baseball games.
“I understand the safety concerns. But let us see the guy. It would be nice, I think.”
The evening wasn’t a total loss for Hanson, though.
“I was able to post some snarky comments about a protester on my Facebook page,” he said.
Sliekers joked about circumventing security after meeting a television journalist covering the event.
“I asked him where he was from. ‘CNN.’ ‘Well, I’m going to stick with you and see how far I get,’” Sliekers said.
“Not very far ... “