Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Larry Daniels and Rose Dawson started selling presidential campaign buttons together in the 1970s when Ronald Reagan was first running for presidential candidacy.
Nearly 40 years later, the pair brought their button boards to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s final rally before Election Day Monday in Columbus.
“They’re really milking the boards dry for the first time so far in a long, dry campaign,” Dawson said, in regard to the large numbers of customers buying buttons at the Monday rally at Landmark Aviation.
Casey Gelety, a Columbus State Community College student, sold memorabilia at President Barack Obama’s Oct. 9 rally on Ohio State’s Oval, which had an estimated turnout of 15,000. He said Romney’s campaign events can’t compete with these numbers.
“My brother does the Romney rallies too, and there’s not even one-quarter the amount of people there,” Gelety said.
Obama held a final rally Monday in Columbus at Nationwide Arena, where he greeted a 15,500-person crowd accompanied by Bruce Springsteen and rapper Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z.
Romney was accompanied by the Marshall Tucker Band and about 10,000 supporters during his Monday event, where he arrived via his private campaign jet that pulled up into the hangar.
Gelety’s brother and fellow Columbus State student, Kary Harman, said he would rather work events for the president than for Romney.
“I prefer the Obama rallies, the people (at Romney events) are real uptight and don’t want to buy anything,” Harman said.
Gelety and Harman said they did not plan to vote for either the Democratic or Republican nominee and began selling buttons after responding to a job posting in the “Gigs” section of Craigslist.
However, Tyra Jackson said she believes selling campaign memorabilia is doing her part to show her support of the president.
With a homemade “I Got Your Back” sign taped to her own, Jackson displayed her table of Obama 2012 T-shirts, buttons and memorabilia at the Oct. 9 rally.
Jackson arrived on the Oval at 10 a.m. to begin preparing for her long day of selling buttons and memorabilia.
“I’ll be here until the end,” Jackson said. “It’s an eight-hour day.”
Jackson said she has been a devoted supporter of Obama since he began campaigning for president prior to the 2008 election. She said selling buttons is just doing her part, though she found the crowd at OSU to be more difficult.
“I don’t feel as much support here,” Jackson said. “It’s because it’s a college campus (and) people just walk on by. They’re paying attention to getting in (to the event). They’re not looking to buy a button.”
Kiley Null, a first-year in arts and sciences undecided, said she doesn’t own any campaign-related merchandise but noticed buttons on students’ backpacks as Election Day reached campus.
“I feel like I do see more Obama stuff, just because his supporters are more likely to show (support publicly),” Null said.
Jackson estimates she sells between 30 to 40 buttons at each rally, along with other merchandise, with a similar price range of two for $5 or 10 for $20.
Dawson said she believes Democratic supporters are more likely to buy buttons but added she and Daniels will usually sell more than a hundred buttons at each event they attend with one for $3 or two for $5 deals.
With the end of an election season, Dawson said she thinks her customers’ main motivation in buying campaign buttons has been “to rev (supporters) up.”
Reports that Obama won the election started surfacing at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday evening. The announcement came soon after the media started reporting that Obama had won Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. With 99 percent of the state’s precincts reporting at about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, Obama won with 50 percent of the vote, leading Romney, who captured 48 percent.