From a distance, the visual of students lining up along Bellflower Road in this Rust Belt city’s University Circle neighborhood was good B-roll for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, seemingly showcasing her appeal to young people.
It also was an opportunity to claim she was building a firewall of supporters for Ohio’s March primary, should Joe Biden step in or Bernie Sanders catch up in a meaningful way.
That initial impression was quickly dispelled.
What looked like a block-long line turned out to be a crowd that could barely fill one-fourth of a football field. And the students in attendance? Well, they weren’t exactly there to support the former secretary of State.
“I am sort of a Bernie (Sanders) fan. I also had nothing else to do at 10 in the morning,” said Brian Miller, a chemical engineering student from Pittsburgh, waiting with more than a dozen friends for the event to start.
David Lituchy of Morgantown, W.Va., was there on the off-chance he’d see a different Clinton: “I am here for Bill. He would definitely liven things up here.”