Shartel introduces Obama at political rally

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Stratton Shartel received the opportunity to introduce Obama through his work with the President’s campaign in the Braddock District.

When History teacher Stratton Shartel decided to work on President Obama’s campaign this summer for the Braddock District, he expected the usual job of registering voters and calling potential supporters. In addition to these tasks, he was honored with the role of introducing Obama at a political rally at Centreville HS on July 14.

“[While working for President Obama’s campaign], I was asked by the local campaign office if I wanted to be considered among others to have a greater role at the rally,” Stratton Shartel said. “I received several calls from staffers from his campaign asking me questions about why I supported him. Then, about five days before the rally, they asked me if I would introduce him.”

Stratton Shartel was able to meet President Obama beforehand and had his picture taken with him. He also learned about how political rallies are planned and executed. When introducing the President, he told the audience that Obama “is fighting for folks like me.”

“[The experience was] exciting and interesting,” Stratton Shartel said. “I was so surprised and thrilled. It’s not every day that you get to introduce the President of the United States.”

Stratton Shartel was also present for when First Lady Michelle Obama came to AHS in October.

“It’s hard to compare the two experiences because my roles were different,” Stratton Shartel said. “Both were a thrill. The rally for the President allowed me to see things a little more from the inside, which was fascinating.”

Rising senior Rowan Shartel, Stratton’s niece, was also present at the rally.

“I would definitely say the experience beat seeing Michelle, though that was a great experience, because it had more to do with current politics and was an awesome opportunity,” Rowan Shartel said.

In his speech, President Obama focused on his desire to renew middle class and economy by extending a tax cut used by President Bush that would apply to families that make less than $250,000.

“I thought Obama’s speech was very much focused on how he would improve middle class life, as well as how he directly compared himself to Mitt Romney in terms of ideas, strategies and beliefs,” Rowan Shartel said. “Overall, I thought it was really fitting for the event.”

About 1,200 people were able to obtain tickets to go to the rally that was held in Centreville’s gym. The rally was part of a two-day campaign trip through Virginia. Virginia was originally considered a heavily Republican state before Obama won Virginia in the 2008 election, being the first Democrat to do so in 44 years. He also won Fairfax County with 60 percent of the vote.

“I believe the election will be very close, but I predict he will win reelection,” Stratton Shartel said.