President Obama rallies support for Brown in Prince George’s

President Obama rallies support for Brown in Prince George’s

Photo above and below: President Obama at Henry Wise High School in Upper Marlboro. Photos by Alexis Webb

By Alexis Webb

President Obama made a rare campaign stop in Maryland Sunday afternoon to rally support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown and to encourage early voting.

Marylanders fought heavy traffic, stood in line for hours, and were screened through airport like security before participating in the rally.

Despite the president’s record low approval levels, thousands of Maryland residents filled the gymnasium of the Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.

Most rally participants welcomed the president waving neon blue Brown-Ulman posters waving in the air, but a number of rally goers also left the speech halfway through Obama’s presentation for unknown reasons. (For UPATE, See editor’s note below)

Obama was also stopped mid-speech by a heckler whom the president believed had said “something about immigration reform.”  The crowd booed the man that made the comments.

Firing up the crowd

“It’s important to have the president here and I think it’s going to get people fired up,” said Jennifer Stapleton, Maryland chapter leader for Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense, an organization created to advocate for child safety against gun violence.

Brown’s stance on gun reform and his support of last year’s “Firearm Safety Act” requiring fingerprinting for handgun purchases has been a difference he’s played up against Republican opponent Larry Hogan Jr.

“We have endorsed Lt. Gov. Brown as Maryland’s next Governor,” said Stapleton.

Obama at podium final

President Obama strongly endorsed Brown’s campaign. “Anthony Brown has a new vision, a vision deeply rooted in the American dream… Opportunity for every American is what Anthony Brown believes in,” said Obama, who attended Harvard Law School at the same time as Brown.

“Education that helps more young people… If you elect Anthony Brown he will provide high quality pre-k to every Maryland resident,” said the president, touting a key plank in Brown’s platform.

“Our students need an earlier start to education if they wish to succeed,” said Jason Fair, a Maryland teacher.

Hoping to turnout the black vote

Brown, who is campaigning to become Maryland’s first African American governor, was greeted with enthusiasm by the heavily African American crowd, a part of the electorate he needs to win. In a Washington Post poll taken in early October, Brown had the support of 77% of likely African American voters, but 10% were still undecided.

Brown urged the crowd to go to the polls. “We don’t have to revisit the struggles and the suffering of the 1950s and the ’60s and generations of history in this country to exercise that most important and fundamental right to vote,” Brown said.

“You’ve got to vote,” President Obama told rally participants. “No excuses,”

“Nothing will change unless you get out and vote,” said Obama. Democrats are worried about poor turnout in the general election after record low turnout of voters in the June primary.

The rally energized many who attended.

“I think Obama endorsing him is going to give him a great leg up,” said Teddy Cormartie, a blind man at the rally. “It seems like the disability services in Maryland are a lot better than D.C. or Virginia, and I support that.”

”Clearly Obama sold the message,” Matthew Vaughn-Smith, a teacher at Bollman Bridge Elementary School in Jessup. “It’s a clear choice. Anthony Brown is a champion of the middle class. He understands the importance of early education. The rally reminded us Americans what’s going well. I think he really energized the base. I’m excited to go out and vote.”

“I think it was very powerful,” Sen. Verna Jones–Rodwell of Baltimore said.

UPDATE: Why did they walk out?

Some reports are making a big deal about the number of people who appeared to leave the rally for Anthony Brown as President Obama was speaking. The Republican Governors Association put out a press release about it, saying:

“Obama might still have the celebrity in blue states for photo opportunities, but when it comes to hearing the message that his policies and legacy on the ballot, even blue state residents are tired of the same old talking points on his failed agenda.”

According to our reporter on the scene, Alexis Webb, it was not clear why a number of people on the crowded gym floor seemed to leave, but it was not an organized departure. They just seemed to drift off.

Webb said it was hot and crowded on the floor, and she noticed some of the people left to go up in the bleachers where they could get a better view.

Simply walking out doesn’t make a lot of sense, since many people had waited two hours to go through security and then waited another hour for the speeches from various Maryland politicians to begin. It wasn’t until after 5 p.m. that the president actually appeared on stage — four hours or more after many of those attending the rally had arrived at the school or the satellite parking lots.

Leaving early to get to their cars didn’t make a lot of sense, since most had to take a bus to get to the satellite lots.

If anyone who was actually at the event has a better explanation of what went on and why the people left, we’d like to hear from you. Write to, @lenlazarick or call 410-312-9840.

–Len Lazarick



  1. thekytikat

    FYI: One of the attendees at the Brown/Obama rally got back to me on twitter. The people had been there waiting to see Obama. They saw him, then left. Seems like a celebrity type thing to me.

  2. lenlazarick

    Speculation is easy, reporting is a bit more difficult. We now have photos of a couple of dozen black people leaving a rally estimated at 8,000 people. How many left and why did they leave? We don’t know. Did somebody throw up like the woman in the Pentagon parking lot? Did someone say they just got back from Liberia? Maryland Reporter will gladly report XXX number of people walked out on the president because …… ?? Part of reporting is not making things up to conform to your own version of reality. These walkouts went through two hours of security and then waited another two hours so they could walk out on first African American president of the United States. Would someone tell me why based on talking to one or more of these folks?

    • thekytikat

      I wish I could tell you… Honestly, even tho I live in PG County, I had NO idea Brown was in the area, or the president for that matter. Not that I could have gone if I wanted to, as I just had foot surgery. I hope maybe someone who was there will speak up.

    • thekytikat

      FWIW – I contacted a few people on twitter who posted that they were at the event and asked them if they knew why people were leaving. I’ll let you know if anyone responds.

  3. MD observer

    The Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School looks to me like a gold-plated monstrosity. It looks like a courthouse w/ attached gymnasium and film studio for crying out loud.

    I recently drove thru N.E. DC to visit my H.S. A catholic school that still graduates 99% of students (84% go on to college) who evidently some people would argue are “disadvantaged” by being taught in a 65 year old building without any bells and whistles evident in the Wise school. No way is the Wise school’s extravagance justified.

    Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School

  4. Book

    If people got up and walked out they simply were not engrossed in the speech. Heat, boredom, it doesn’t matter? Maybe supporters are sick of the same old blame game. Like it or not we have a two party government and we need a President who can work effectively with the other party to get things done. (like Clinton, like Reagan) Finger pointing is not doing wonders for the President’s approval ratings anymore. They walked out. It is what it is.

    • Middle Molly

      Or maybe it was staged? Did that thought occur to you? Why would people wait for hours and then walk out? Doesn’t make sense. I smell a rat.

  5. DCRussell

    This report certainly differs in some key respects from the Reuters and New York Times reports.

  6. KatieSilverSpring

    We need better photos of those who walked out. It sounds more like Casa de Maryland at work than it does the general populace tired of Obama. We cannot be comforted by this. We should be scared that the illegal-immigration movement is so bold and will return, oh, they will return.

    • thekytikat

      Go check out the UK DailyMail. They got photos of the crowds leaving. It was NOT Casa De Maryland walking out, tho they may have been behind the heckler.

      • KatieSilverSpring

        Look at the heckler’s sign, then look at the tags some of the departees are wearing. They are Casa de Maryland types.

        • thekytikat

          Where do you see tags they are wearing? — I’m sincerely curious, because I’m looking at the pictures of the crowds leaving and not seeing tags or buttons or even a set of tshirts to support that… I just want to make sure I’m looking at the right place.

  7. The American

    Brown in MD; what has this man done for Maryland? What has he done for you and
    I? Besides help run business out of the state, over spend and waste our tax
    dollars. Then keep adding taxes on you and I.
    Do you like the RAIN tax? How can we be taxed on something we can’t
    control? Just like paying Brown who is not controlled by We the People because
    he does not represent US. Do you like
    the progressive gas tax? If Brown is
    elected the next tax could be a Mileage TAX for using the car you paid for and
    have to fill with overly taxed gas! And he would like nothing better take away
    our constitutional rights and freedoms. Brown cannot run on his record, unless you like taxes
    and mismanagement. So instead he puts
    out negative adds and lies about his opponent.
    would just continue the same O’Malley’s political Mafia tax and spend polices.
    With out lessening to the citizens he is suppose to represent. Tell me WHAT has
    he done that makes any of you think he would be a good governor? WHAT? I will
    wait for you answers. but I won’t hold my breath. Breathing might be
    taxed next. As
    he just stated in this debate Brown wants to run MD as he thinks it should be
    run, NOT as WE think it should be run. I’m voting for Md. Hogan Larry, Dymowski Leo, William Campbell, Banach
    Dave. See the entire list of Oath Keepers in MD on For Americans Only

  8. The American

    This account makes no mention of the fact that many people got up and left after Obama started his speech. why was this fact over looked?

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