In Tampa, President draws cheers and boos

06/25/12 Janelle Irwin
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President Barack Obama was met in Tampa on Friday by an excited crowd of supporters at the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College. Almost 3,000 people showed up to applaud the President for policies like the Affordable Care Act and the Dream Act. During his stop, Obama told the crowd that voters shouldn’t support a candidate who chose to send jobs overseas. He cited a report in the Washington Post.

“That the companies his firm owned were pioneers in the outsourcing of American jobs to China and India. Pioneers? Let me tell you Tampa, we do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. We need a President who will fight for American jobs and fight for American manufacturing. That’s what my plan will do. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.”

In advance of Obama’s speech, Democratic National Committee chair and member of Congress Debbie Wasserman-Shultz rallied the crowd. She talked about how the Obama administration has made progress despite claims by Republicans that they haven’t including adding more than four million jobs over the past three years. Wasserman-Shultz said Republicans and their presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney are more concerned with unseating Obama than repairing the economy.

“Mitt Romney, make no mistake, is rooting for failure and he’s asking elected officials all over the country to do the same. He wants to turn back the clock on all the progress that we’ve made. But, we’re not going to let him get away with it are we? Of course not.”

Outside, some thirty anti-Obama protesters waved signs along the sidewalk in front of the campus with messages like, ‘America can’t afford four more years’. They wore buttons reading "Nobama." Some argued with motorists who were stuck in traffic about economic policies. Chris Seeger was one of them. He thinks the President is doing a bad job.

“He’s an inept moron that doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Seeger said Obama won’t even admit when he’s screwed up.

“Oh, I inherited this big mess. Oh, did you really? Well, for what it took Bush eight years to rake up 4 trillion in debt, Obama’s now done that, 5.1 trillion in three and a half years. You don’t have to be a PhD in mathematics to understand that his debt has trumped Bush’s in a lot less time.”

But the finger-pointing and name calling has only just begun. This was the first Florida rally in Obama’s 2012 campaign. He stopped in Orlando before heading to Tampa and then hosted a $20,000 a plate fundraiser with 25 people. Despite his fundraising skills, Obama said the Republicans will outspend Democrats in the November election.

“And all that money is going to be spent on ads telling you that the economy’s bad, it’s all my fault and I can’t fix it because government is always the answer according to me or because I didn’t make a lot of money in the private sector or because I’m in over my head or because I think everybody’s doing just fine. They will have ad after ad after ad and all of them will have scary voices. ... You know? They’ll have pictures of me looking all old and broke down.”

The crowd laughed, but it’s a serious setback for Democrats. Obama urged people to knock on doors and use social media to get folks to the polls. He encouraged them to tell people what a country will look like under a president whose economic priorities favor the wealthiest Americans.

“First, they promise to roll back all kinds of regulations on banks and polluters and insurance companies and oil companies. That’s the first part of their plan. Second part of their plan, they don't just want to keep all the Bush tax cuts in place. The ones for the wealthiest Americans, they want to keep those in place. Then they want to add another $5trillion in tax cuts on top of that including a 25% tax cut for every millionaire in the country.”

Obama wonders how Republicans plan to pay for that.

“That’s a good question. Well, let me tell you. They start by proposing a trillion dollars in cuts to things like education and training and medical research and clean energy. But that’s not enough. That’s only a trillion dollars. They’ve all this got four trillion to go. So then they propose eliminating healthcare for about 50 million Americans and then they propose turning Medicare into a voucher program.”

Florida is a must win state for Mitt Romney and so far polls have the two major candidates neck and neck. Both campaigns have started focusing on Florida’s Hispanic voters who could tip the scales. Obama has said that he will stop deporting children of undocumented immigrants. Democratic Party chair Wasserman-Shultz also highlighted the President’s support of a law that would allow those individuals to pay in-state tuition at colleges and go on to obtain permanent legal residency if certain benchmarks are met.

“Aren’t we proud of this president for issuing yet another ‘we can’t wait’ executive order to allow our Dream Act kids who have known no other country to stay in this country and live the American dream – to make sure that they can serve in our military, get an education and be the wonderful and productive additions to our American tapestry that they have been for so many years.”

Some of the anti-Obama protesters argued that Democrats support issues like the Dream Act to be accepting of non-white races. But at the same time, Mitt Romney supporter Chris Seeger explained, he plays the race card anytime he is criticized. Chris Brudy, a Democrat, contended that it was like the pot calling the kettle black.

“But they’re very good at attacking Obama for doing the things that they do so that’s one other part of their lies is to attack the president for doing things that they are actually doing.”

Obama and other speakers also highlighted the Affordable Care Act for its ability to insure Americans more fairly. Among other things it stops insurance companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition and allows adult students to stay on their parents' insurance for longer. Ed Bradley, a volunteer with the Obama campaign Organize for America, called Obama courageous for championing the law Republicans hate. He said healthcare would be dealt a huge blow if Romney wins the November election.

“They don’t have any plans. Not that I’ve heard. They’re absolutely 100% anti. They’re not pro-anything. They’re anti-everything.”

Obama will be in Florida again Tuesday for a fundraiser in Miami. He won the state in 2008 against Republican John McCain by less than 2%.

Photos from the event

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