GARY | John Cowans believes that at 90 years old, if he can get out and encourage others to vote, anyone can.
"I'd support the president if I had to get down on my knees to do it," the former member of the Tuskegee Airmen said leaning on his cane Saturday morning. "The president is the chief military officer on the planet, not just this nation, and we need him to continue to fight the good fight."
Cowans was one of about 100 people gathered around 7:30 a.m. at the Village Shopping Center in Gary at 35th Avenue and Grant Street for the Turn Indiana Blue for Obama bus tour. Two coach buses departed around 8 a.m. for stops in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Lafayette.
Former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, the first black mayor of a major U.S. city, said he is confident Indiana voters will support President Barack Obama in his re-election bid come November.
"Four years ago, we were told that Indiana could not, that President Obama could not win in Indiana — and four years ago he won," Hatcher said. "I believe that history can repeat itself."
Lake County Clerk Mike Brown, the first African-American clerk in the county, stressed the need to register people to vote and said he would be urging others across the state to do so. Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin agreed.
"Each thing we do is to lift the spirit of each of the voters and to make sure voters are registered," Elgin said.
Hatcher said he does not believe the win by Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock over U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary indicates a shift toward a more conservative Indiana voter base.
"I think what has happened is many people here in Indiana don't appreciate the fact that Mr. Mourdock saw fit to come in with very extreme views," Hatcher said. "Many of these persons who were Lugar supporters, I believe, are now going to be supporting (Democrat Joe) Donnelly."
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-Gary, said he wants to "just continue the torch that was started four years ago.
"We want to make sure the flame doesn't go out."