At least one protester wore an “Obama deports parents” t-shirt, and another identified herself as a “DREAMer,” an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the U.S. as child.
“I am sympathetic to those who are concerned about immigration,” Obama said over shouts and commotion in the audience. “It’s the other party that’s blocked it. Unfortunately, folks get frustrated then they want to yell at everybody.”
“I understand that, but this is why elections are important. Because we really have two different visions of America," he added.
He urged the otherwise adoring crowd that packed into Central High School’s auditorium to take their friends, families, and associates to the ballot box.
“You‘ve got to grab your friends. You’ve got to knock on some doors, you’ve got to make some phone calls,” Obama exhorted the crowd of about 1,900. “You’ve got to find your polling place, then you’ve got to take everybody you know to cast their ballot for Dan Malloy.”
With only two days before Election Day, Obama arrived in Bridgeport to rally for Malloy, one of the few Democrats running this cycle who could stand to benefit from his help.
Today’s objective: make it seem like 2008 in this high school auditorium.
Recent polls show Malloy still locked in a virtual dead heat with Republican challenger Tom Foley, as he has been for months.
In this type of environment, where voters have been battered by seemingly endless months of campaigning and are disaffected with both parties, every drop of enthusiasm matters.
In a sense, Obama’s presence here in final days of the campaign happened by chance. A visit planned for earlier in the month was cancelled as Ebola fears gripped the nation.
With the rally coming on the eve of the election, the stakes were higher. Obama could be seen as either boosting Malloy to victory or helping to keep him down by appearing by his side in the campaign’s final stretch.
Luckily for Malloy, Obama has a good track record in this blue state. In 2012, he won re-election by 17 points. And in 2010, Obama was credited with drumming up so much excitement days before the election that polling sites ran out of ballots.
Here in Bridgeport, Obama's brand is still, by and large, golden. As the president’s motorcade rolled through the neighborhoods of this industrial town, supporters enthusiastically waved and snapped photos.
And Malloy made it clear that his gubernatorial agenda, from raising the minimum wage to gun control, has been influenced and supported by the president.
"When the president called for raising the minimum wage, we responded. First in the nation to raise the minimum wage," Malloy noted.
In other parts of the country, however, this is no 2008 or even 2012. Obama is suffering from some of the lowest approval and favorability ratings of his presidency.
Until recently, he has been virtually absent from competitive Senate races, and has largely stuck to raising millions in an effort to blunt the impact of an unfavorable midterm election cycle for Democrats this year.
In the final days of the campaign, however, Obama has hit the trail hard. First, Wisconsin and Maine, then on Saturday, he made a rare appearance with Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters in Detroit.
On Sunday night, Obama closed out his final pre-election sprint in similarly friendly territory on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf in Philadelphia.
Many of the some-5,500 people in Temple University's basketball stadium led a chant of "Vote! Vote! Vote!" during Obama's remarks.
"Your vote matters," he told them. "The election is too important to leave it for someone else."
Unlike Malloy, Wolf, enjoys a comfortable 12-point lead over deeply unpopular incumbent Tom Corbett, a Republican.
There too, however, Obama must rally – and turn out – the faithful. Wolf may not need to eek out a win in that race, but the risk remains that voters, seeing his sizable lead in the polls, will become complacent and fail to show up on Election Day.
“Two days. Two days and you get to choose the governor who will lead you for the next four years,” Obama reminded Connecticut voters.
[This post has been updated.]