Area residents enjoy Obama's second turn at inauguration

President Barack Obama supporters wave American flags on the National Mall in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, prior to the start of Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Published: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:12 p.m.

For Eric Conrad, four years of hard work and support came to an end Monday.

President Barack Obama was inaugurated into the Oval Office for the second and final time — the culmination of another hard-fought campaign — and Conrad traveled from Gainesville to Washington, D.C., to be part of it.

He's already been part of Obama's campaign network for years — first as an intern for the president's successful 2008 run for the Oval Office and later as deputy press secretary for North Florida for the 2012 re-election campaign.

His work for Obama wasn't quite over Monday, though, despite the fact that the campaign ended in November.

Conrad volunteered to run a media zone for reporters and photographers during the festivities while inaugural crowds tromped through the streets.

He has good memories from his time campaigning for Obama and expects to work other high-level campaigns in the future, but none will be quite like working for his first presidential candidate.

"It's sad because this is obviously the first major politician I've really worked for," he said. "And it's good to see all my friends and old campaign buddies, but at the same time we're all going to go off in other directions."

Conrad said he felt Obama's final inaugural address set out a succinct argument for his progressive policies by putting it into the overall narrative of American history.

The president showed that these policies are another step in the direction of key ideals for which Americans have fought for decades, he said.

One moment from the inauguration that stuck in his mind came not during Obama's speech, but after it. The president looked back at the thousands-strong crowd, saying he needed to see this one last time.

Cynthia Moore Chestnut, a former Alachua County commissioner, was in Washington, D.C., during the inauguration as well. She said many people in the city were huddled together discussing what Obama's re-election means for the future.

Chestnut, who also went to Washington for Obama's first inauguration, said she thought his speech was moving.

"It was a very passionate speech about responsibility and about America coming together for the good of all," she said.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or

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