President Campaigns in Commonwealth Days Before Election
By Caitlin Davis
Oct 26, 2012, 14:41
photo by Caitin Davis President Obama smiled as he greeted a crowd of 15,000 at Byrd Park in Richmond
With just days left before this year’s presidential election, and with the polls getting closer and closer with each passing day, President Barack Obama stopped in Richmond on Thursday as part of what he called his “48-hour fly around campaign extravaganza.”
The focus of his appearance was to urge residents of one of the most contested battleground states to vote on Nov. 6.
“I’ve come to Virginia today to ask you for your vote just 12 days from now,” Obama said. “I need your vote in keeping America moving forward.”
After spending the morning in Florida, with stops in Colorado and Nevada before that, President Obama campaigned in Byrd Park in Richmond, speaking to a crowd of approximately 15,000. He told them that after three debates, months of campaigning and too many TV commercials, Americans understand the choice they will make at the polls.
Obama’s first mention of his opponent, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, drew boos and shouts from the crowd, but Obama asked them to express their disapproval in a different way.
“Don’t boo, vote,” Obama urged.
Recent polls in Virginia show the president leading by two points, just inside the margin of error.
Congressman Bobby Scott, D-3, was on hand to remind the audience that every vote counts in the Commonwealth, a fact he said was demonstrated four years ago during the 2008 Presidential election.
“Because you voted, at 10:58 p.m., ‘CNN’ said Barack Obama carried Virginia,” Scott remembered. “Two minutes later, they came back and said Barack Obama was the President Elect of the United States.”
Scott said the people who cast those votes made it possible to improve education, create jobs and help Americans receive comprehensive health care.
“In 2014, all Americans will have access to affordable health care because you voted four years ago,” he said.
The topic of health care has been fiercely debated by both parties. Romney has charged that “Obamacare” will lead to higher unemployment and increased healthcare costs, while Obama has dismissed those claims.
On Thursday, Obama argued that the policies Romney has proposed are the same polices that caused the financial crisis and the recession. Obama said Romney is counting on voters to forget what happened and forget what those policies did to the country, but said his healthcare plan would treat that forgetfulness.
photo by Caitlin Davis
“He’s hoping you come down with a case of what we call ‘Romnesia.’ He’s hoping you won’t remember his economic plan is more likely to put jobs in China than it is in America,” Obama said. “...He’s hoping you come down with a severe case of Romnesia before you cast your ballot, but Richmond, I want you to know that it is a curable disease. If you feel any symptoms coming on, you’re starting to get a little woozy, your eyes get a little blurry, there’s a ringing in your ears, you can’t remember what you said just a week ago, if you can’t remember what the plans are on your own website and you are worrying you are coming down with a case of Romnesia, we want you to know Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can make you well. We can fix you up.”
Obama said he wanted his supporters to know he understands one of the most important issues of the upcoming election.
“Trust matters,” Obama said. “You want to know whoever is in the Oval Office will fight for you...You know me. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. We haven’t finished all the work we set out to do in 2008. You know I’m thinking about you and I’m fighting for your families.”
Obama said he wants voters to continue what he described as the nation’s forward momentum.
“On issue after issue, we are moving forward,” Obama said. “The unemployment rate is falling, manufacturing is coming back, our assembly lines are humming. We’ve got a long way to go, Virginia, but we can’t turn back now and we can’t afford to go backwards.”
Senatorial candidate Tim Kaine said there are many differences between the policies proposed by Romney and the president, but identified one main question he thinks voters will answer with their ballots in November.
“Do we protect tax breaks for the wealthy, or do we protect investments and education and infrastructure, public safety and other things that make us strong?” Kaine asked.
Senator Mark Warner, who introduced the President, cited his own experience as a business man in making his case for Obama.
“As a business guy I’ve looked at the Romney/Ryan plan,” Warner said. “You don’t need a business degree, you just need to know arithmetic. I know Business 101, and when you are in a hole, if you’re going to get out of that hole, the first thing you going to do is stop digging.”
Warner said that the 2012 election is still centered around the message of change.
“In 2008 we changed the guard. In 2012 we guard the change,” Warner said, leading the crowd in a chant.
photo by Caitlin Davis “In 2008 we changed the guard. In 2012 we guard the change,” Senator Mark Warner said at Thursday’s rally.
Obama urged his audience to examine Romney’s plan in order to make an educated decision at the polls, in an election that comes down to what he described as basic principals.
“In this election, stand up for that basic principal that we are all created equal, that everybody has a voice in America,” Obama said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from or who you love, black or white, Hispanic, Native American, young, rich, poor, gay, straight, abled or disabled, it doesn’t matter. You have a place in America. You can make it if you try. That’s what’s best in our country. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
Obama asked for four more years to keep the promises he made in 2008.
“I promise you, if you give me four more years, you will have a president who always hears your voice, a president who will always fight for you and your families,” Obama said. “...I ask you to keep believing in me.”
photo by Caitlin Davis
Supporters held up the number four and shouted “I love you” and “Four more years,” as Obama walked off the stage, ready to move onto other campaign stops in battleground states.
Lynette McLauren, of Richmond, said the President has done a fantastic job in the White House and said she is ready to put him back in office. McLauren, who had seen the president speak once before, said words cannot describe what it is like to hear him speak.
McLauren said she has seen the change Obama promised, even if has happened more slowly than many hoped.
“The economy is moving slow, but it is moving,” McLauren said.
Clad in an Obama t-shirt, Audrey Cook, of Midlothian, said that even though she doesn’t like crowds, facing them was worth it to show her support.
“I believe he’s done a wonderful job,” Cook said. “He’s honest, he’s for the people.”