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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Arriving early for Obama




The line outside Gaither gym began forming two hours before Barack Obama's 1 p.m. rally at Florida A&M University, the crowd eager for a glimpse of the Democratic candidate. (Photo: by noon, the line was hundreds deep) Many seemed to still be feeling him out.

"He seems like a charismatic leader, but I think it's a little early in the process," said Juan Mestre, 48, of Tallahassee. FSU senior Lanier Echols, 21 of St. Petersburg, stood at a booth registering people to vote. "He's fresh, he's new," she said of Obama.

Students paid $10 and the general public $20 -- an entry fee reated as a campaign contribution.

This is Obama's first of three stops in Tallahassee. At 5 p.m., he heads to the home of Jay Landers for a fundraiser. Then, at 6:30, Obama will deliver the keynote address at the Leon County Democratic Party's Collins-Steele Dinner at FSU's University Center Club. The sold-out event is expected to draw 400.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:00pm]


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