In Seminole Obama says voters have a choice to make
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09/10/12 Janelle Irwin
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At an impassioned grassroots speaking event, President Barack Obama told voters they have an obvious choice to make. Speaking to a crowd of thousands at the St. Pete College Seminole campus on Saturday, the president wooed the crowd with a combination of wit and optimism.

Hot on the heels of his Democratic nomination acceptance speech in Charlotte, Obama reiterated some of his priorities in office. In sync with the day’s venue, Obama criticized Republicans for wanting to “gut” education.

“No child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded class room or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money. No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find ones with the right skills right here at home. So, help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years and improve early childhood education and give 2 million workers the chance to learn skills at that community college that will lead to a job.”

The president was introduced by several speakers including Congress member Kathy Castor, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist. But the first introduction speech to rally the crowd was a St. Petersburg High School Freshman. Mallory Stewart-Robison said because she can’t vote, she’s taking to the streets to help the Obama campaign because he supports things like affordable education and fair pay for women.

“The first law that he signed in office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act so that when I’m working hard and playing by the rules, I don’t hit a glass ceiling and I have the right to equal pay.”

Obama dressed down for the outdoor event and cracked jokes to the audience. He squinted in the sun and beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He told supporters that people like him and his opponent, Mitt Romney, should have to pay more in taxes, but all the Republicans want to do is pass policies that hurt the middle class.

“Tax cuts, tax cuts, gut a few regulations, some more tax cuts. Tax cuts when times are good, tax cuts when times are bad. Tax cuts to help you lose a few extra pounds. Tax cuts to help your love life.”

The comment drew a roar of laughter and one person shouted that it doesn’t work. The crowd even booed at the prospect of a Romney-Ryan administration.

“So now you’ve got a big choice to make and by the way, don’t boo, vote.”

Obama has been out-funded by his opponent for several months now. The President has relied on grassroots efforts and focused on small contributions from individuals. But the Romney campaign has garnered massive funding from deep-pocketed special interests and corporations – like oil companies. Obama slammed the GOP, implying they had been bought.

“And let me tell you, unlike my opponent, I’m not going to oil companies write this country’s energy plan or endanger our coastline or collect another four billion dollars in corporate welfare from our tax payers. I’m not going to let them do that.”

Obama said his long-term energy plan emphasizes alternative fuels and efficiencies.

“We’re going to help farmers and scientists harvest new bio-fuels to power cars and trucks. We’re going to put construction workers back to work building homes and factories that waste less energy and retrofitting old buildings and homes to use less energy. We’re developing 10 year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.”

Obama also touched on healthcare issues. He mockingly referred to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” and said it would make sure more Americans have access to quality healthcare. After the speech one of his supporters, Fred Souders, said that’s one of the reasons he supports Obama.

“He helps in worrying about the seniors which I worry about. I have a mother that’s alive and I understand just how important programs like Medicaid and that are to older citizens.”

The president didn’t talk about marriage equality during his speech, but there were plenty of supporters with the issue on their minds. Jeff Scarr was buying some ‘I support Obama’ buttons decorated in rainbows while waiting for a shuttle to take him back to his car. He said Obama’s support of Gay marriage, though delayed, is a giant step in the right direction for LGBT rights.

“You know, he was very supportive with organizations like HRC, so I knew where his position was and how difficult it was for him to come out and say it politically. But now that he has, it’s amazing for me and for our whole community at large. It’s just huge, it’s monumental, it’s historic and it just makes me so proud.”

Obama supporters waited in long lines last week to get free tickets for the speech. Then on Saturday, many of them arrived to get a good spot as early as 5 in the morning. The speech lasted a little less than a half-hour.

Here are more photos from WMNF volunteer Kim DeFalco

Charlie Crist introduces President Obama:



President Obama speech part 1:



President Obama speech part 2:



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