Though Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine wasn’t due to speak at a rally in the HUB-Robeson Center until 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Park Forest resident Nick Starks had been guarding his spot at the front of the line since 9 a.m.
“The email that I got said, ‘We’d love to see you in the front row,’ ” Starks said. “I took that literally.”
A self-described “Bernie Bro,” Starks said he is on board with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and wanted to “celebrate everything that is not Trump.”
Another early comer was Lucas Vigil, an astrophysics sophomore at Penn State, who attended the campaign rally in Miami when Hillary Clinton announced Kaine as her running mate.
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A member of both the Hispanic and LGBTQ community, Vigil said he was excited to be a part of a historic campaign.
“They have done so much toward progressive movement,” Vigil said.
Kristina Guthrie, a former secondary English teacher who lives in State College, brought her two sons — ages 11 and 9 — to the rally.
“I thought it was very important for them to be able to see how democracy works and the kinds of responsibilities that they get to uphold when they’re of voting age,” said Guthrie, who is originally from New Jersey.
During his speech, Kaine talked about improving lives of the middle class, reducing college tuition and debts, and working toward equality.
Kaine recognized several local representatives and candidates, including Kerith Strano Taylor, who’s running on the Democratic ticket for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.
To Strano Taylor, that gesture proves Kaine is a true leader.
“Not everyone in our country is doing well right now, and we can continue policies that only help people at the top, or we can shift gears that actually help all of us,” Strano Taylor said. “That’s what I heard from Sen. Kaine today.”
John Gastil, a Penn State professor of communication arts and sciences and political science, wore a “Hillary for President 2008” shirt to the rally.
Gastil said he believed Clinton has become even more qualified and that this rally let him get to know Kaine better.
“When you meet a candidate in person, you get a good feeling that they are just human beings,” Gastil said. “He is just a nice guy, and that really comes across.”
Viki Guarrieri, a State College resident originally from Philadelphia, was decked out with pro-Clinton buttons, including one that read “Hil Yeah” pinned on her top.
“Kaine is good-hearted, fun, smart and experienced,” Guarrieri said. “If Hillary admires and trusts him, then I do, too.”
Guarrieri said she’s hosting an election night party and is hoping for a “total blowout.”
Linda Trevino, of State College, said she was already in love with Clinton. Now, she’s “doubly in love” after attending the rally.
“I love Tim Kaine. He said all the right things — he shares all of my values,” Trevino said.
Alison Kuznitz and Min Xian are Penn State journalism students.