Hilliard was the first of President Barack Obama's three scheduled stops in the Buckeye State on Friday, Nov. 2.
Obama and his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, were both in Ohio on Nov. 2, four days before Election Day. Each candidate was appealing for voter support in a closely divided state that political experts consider vital to deciding the presidential election.
Obama addressed about 2,800 people who obtained free tickets for his appearance at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard. After departing Hilliard, Obama was scheduled to appear in Springfield and Lima.
During his 30-minute address, Obama intermittently segued from monotone recounts of his accomplishments and references to his opponent to a rousing crescendo of the importance of his administration continuing its work to strengthen the country.
"Hello, Ohio," Obama said as he greeted the crowd at 10:48 a.m. and followed with an "O-H" chant to elicit an "I-O" response.
Obama thanked Judy Kamalay of Columbus, the Hilliard presidential re-election campaign team leader, for her introduction and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for his comments.
"I can tell this is kind of a rowdy crowd," Obama said in response to shouts of "Obama State" and "four more years" chants from the crowd.
Obama told supporters that the automobile industry has rebuilt, home values have recovered, dependency on foreign oil has diminished, the war in Afghanistan is closing and terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is dead.
"We have made real progress, but we are here today because we know we have more work to do," Obama said.
As long as there are unemployed people or children without opportunity, "Our fight goes on, we have more work to do," he said. "Our fight goes on because this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class."
Obama told the crowd in four days, they face a choice not just between two candidates or two parties but between "two fundamentally different visions of America."
"We know the ideas we believe in work, and we know their ideas don't work," Obama said. "We know what change looks like and what (Romney) is offering (isn't) it."
Obama rallied the crowd when he said, "After four years as president, you know me."
"You know what I believe, where I stand. You know I'll fight for you and your families as hard as I know how," he said.
Obama pledged to cooperate with the opposing party but not to trade tax breaks at the expense of support for education or health care.
"If that's the price of peace, then I'm not going to pay that price," Obama said. "That's not bipartisanship, that's surrender to the status quo that has hurt the middle class.
"I'm not ready to give up the fight. (The wealthy) don't need a champion. The people who need a champion are the Americans who I meet on the campaign trail," such as the unemployed and blue-collar workers and "students right in Hilliard" dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs, doctors and even president.
"The dreams of those children are our saving grace (and) what we need to champion. That's why I need you, Ohio," Obama concluded, after which he greeted supporters while Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered played.
Among those who attended the rally was Bill Search, 43, a teacher at a middle school in Circleville.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Search, who took a day off work to come to Hilliard with his wife and children, including 3-year-old Agatha, who received a high-five from Obama as he greeted supporters at the conclusion of his address.
"I'm also here to show my support for him as our president," Search said.
Other observers included Saravanah Annadurai, a practicing attorney from India, a guest of the U.S. Secretary of State here to observe the campaign process.
Hilliard students also attended the rally, including senior Rida Mansoor, who excitedly told her friends she kissed Obama.
"I told him, 'You're so handsome,' and he said that deserved a kiss ... and I kissed him on the cheek," Mansoor said.
While Obama's indoors address was the main attraction, there also was activity outside the venue.
Opponents of Obama picketed at major intersections along the president's motorcade, and Joe Vowell, 52, a Hilliard resident and business owner and a Romney supporter, stood outside the fairground gates.
"I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. I'm showing my support (for Romney)," Vowell explained to one person who criticized his presence.