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Saturday, July 12, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 77.0° F  Overcast
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Some in Obama rally crowd irked over having to share personal information

At the rally, feelings about the phone number and email requirement were mixed, though mild.
Credit:Nora G. Hertel
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Bonnie Natera attended the campaign rally with President Barack Obama on UW-Madison's Bascom Hill for her six-year-old daughter, Nevaeh. As a toddler, Navaeh was transfixed by Obama on television and said, "I like the way he talks."

While Navaeh waited for the president contentedly with a button and a sticker, Natera expressed her displeasure about having to share her phone number and contact information to get tickets to see the Obama rally on Thursday.

"I did not like it at all," she said, "especially since no one requested to see my ticket."

She thought the pre-registration would allow the campaign to better manage the influx of people. After she endured the packed rally, Natera's contact information remains with the campaign.

A few UW-Madison professors expressed concern this week about the inconvenience the rally imposed on the campus and the propriety of the campaign requiring attendees to submit phone numbers and email addresses in advance. Political science professors Donald Downs and Ken Mayer, along with law professor Ann Althouse, raised objections against the security expense borne by the university, the restriction of students and faculty from a large portion of campus and the requirement that students share contact information and click a button reading, "I'm in," in order to see the president in what was unquestionably a partisan campaign event.

At the rally, feelings about the phone number and email requirement were mixed, though mild. Some people, like Natera, expressed mild irritation with the requirement and others, including numerous students, embraced it.

UW-Madison sophomore Stefan Landis attended the rally to learn more about the race before voting. He was annoyed by all the emails he received before the rally.

Tara Wilhelmi brought her 12- and 9-year-old daughters to the event. She said she didn't mind sharing her contact to get in but "maybe in the future I might, if I start getting calls."

Wilhelmi focused on having a good experience with her family. She and her daughters took half-days off from work and school and she was looking forward to hearing Obama's thoughts on education.

Adriana Alexander, 22, also listened for Obama's thoughts on education, since the topic wasn't addressed much during Wednesday night's debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. She appreciated that Obama's statements on education were "simple and straightforward." Alexander drove from UW-Parkside in Kenosha to attend the rally.

Several other students and non-student attendees shared that they had no issue with sharing their contact information, though many attended in order to show support for Obama's campaign.

Cathi Hart was one such supporter, with no regrets on the wait or the registration.

"He was fantastic," she said, "absolutely worth the wait."

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