BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- As President Barack Obama arrived at Tweed Airport in New Haven, a crowd was gathering and rallying at Central High School in Bridgeport in support of Gov. Dannel Malloy.
"I am truly honored and grateful to welcome to Central High School the President of the United States Barack Obama," Central High School Principal Eric Graf said in starting the program at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
There was a big cheer for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy when Graf mentioned his name as he welcomed distinguished Democratic guests. But there was a huge cheer when he mentioned Obama's name even though the president is not due to arrive for another hour.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch then went to the microphone to get the rally going as the crowd shuffled in. The doors were closed at 2:48 p.m., and security quickly broke down the equipment.
After he landed at the New Haven airport at 2:10 p.m., Obama was greeted on the tarmac by Malloy and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. Malloy and Obama boarded Marine One for a seven-minute helicopter flight to Stratford, landing at 2:33 p.m. The motorcade then departed for the rally in Bridgeport.
Back at the school, local Democratic heavyweights, including U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, and local politicians, including Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, are gathered to the right of the stage.
The crowd, which took buses from nearby Sacred Heart University, began filing into the Central High School gym.
The gym isn't an imposing one. In fact, it's drab-looking, but there is a growing excitement as it began to fill.
The backdrop crowd who will sit behind the president as he speaks at the rally is almost filled with Democratic supporters, including at least one state representative, Jack Hennessy, D-127th District.
There is a growing crowd of people moving onto the floor who want to get as close to the president as possible.
Bleachers to the left of the stage are slowly filling as well as security takes its time to check ticketholders who are arriving for the rally.
The president's motorcade arrived at the Air Force base at 1:15 p.m. on a sunny, windy, chilly day in Washington. D.C.
Malloy is locked in a tight race for governor as he battles in a rematch of the 2010 race against Republican Tom Foley.
Four years ago, Malloy won by about 6,000 votes, largely due to big Democratic voter turnout in Bridgeport, where Obama also appeared at a rally on the eve of the election.
At the rally, in a nod to how close the gubernatorial race is, Blumenthal said the election could be determined by the people in the gym. He pleaded for them to go out and vote.
"Dan Malloy has kept his promises, he has gotten things done," Blumenthal said referring to Malloy's record on gun control.
"Are we going to re-elect Dan Malloy?" Blumenthal said to deafening cheers.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman got even bigger cheers as she quipped, "We need your help! We can't afford Tom Foolery!"
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