President Obama urges supporters “forward” at Redwood City fundraiser
(5/24) — 02:30 PDT — REDWOOD CITY — In the midst of a 16-hour Bay Area visit expected to net millions for his reelection campaign, President Obama looked to energize supporters and draw contrasts with his opponent in a speech before more than a thousand paying supporters at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City Wednesday night.
“On issue after issue, [the Republicans] want to go backwards,” Obama said, saying that he was instead “moving forward to a country where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
The President defended his economic record, saying that the economy has “created more than 4 million jobs in the last 26 months” and touting his bailout of the American auto industry — opposed at the time by his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — as a success.
- PHOTOS: President Obama at Redwood City’s Fox Theatre
- RELATED: Obama schedules latest Bay Area fundraising stop for May 23
The economic growth during the Bush presidency was a “flimsy kind of success,” and when the financial crisis hit, “it was tough,” Obama said. “But it turns out, the American people are tougher,” he added.
Obama blasted Romney as misguided and out of touch with the middle class. Romney “has drawn the wrong lessons” from his time in the private sector, Obama told the crowd. “A healthy economy doesn’t just mean maximizing the profits of some,” Obama said, criticizing Romney’s proposed tax cuts for the wealthy.
Obama: move “forward,” not “backwards”
Obama painted Romney’s economic plans as a backwards step — a theme he returned to again and again during his 32-minute speech. “Why is [Romney] peddling the same bad ideas that brought us to the brink of collapse?” Obama asked.
“We don’t expect the government to solve all our problems,” Obama said, but insisted that government has a role to play. The Golden Gate Bridge, the moon landings, and the Internet could all be “traced back to investments we made together,” Obama said, painting his priorities — such as making higher education more affordable, improving K-12 science and math education, and investing in green energy technologies — as investments in “the right vision of the future.”
Obama also accused Romney of wanting to go backwards on social issues. “We don’t want to go backwards” on health care reform, contraception, or abortion, Obama said. Nor should we “go back to the days when someone could be kicked out of the US military for who they love,” Obama said, referring to the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy — and drawing cheers and applause from the audience.
Obama urged his supporters to show the same enthusiasm for his campaign as they did in 2008. “We’re going to finish what we started,” he told the crowd.
Supporters, protesters mix outside as donors cheer Obama
Hundreds of supporters and dozens of protesters crowded the streets in front of the Fox Theatre Wednesday evening awaiting Obama’s arrival.
The protesters, as usual, varied widely — from Tea Party backers opposed to Obama’s economic policies to liberals urging cuts in the defense budget and the withdrawal of US troops from the Philippines.
Obama opponents attempted to start a chant before Obama arrived at the theater around 9:10 p.m., but were quickly drowned out by supporters chanting “four more years!”
Inside, though, a boisterous crowd of donors — who paid anywhere from $250 for a seat near the back to upwards of $10,000 for handshakes and group photos with the President — lapped up Obama’s speech.
Obama’s remarks were repeatedly interrupted by applause and callouts from audience members — though the callouts were not always on message. A list of high-tech centers in swing states was cut off by a man in the audience shouting “we don’t care about those places!”
“It is so exciting” that the President came to Redwood City, said Jane Taylor of Redwood City, who paid for tickets to the event. She brought her children, aged 9 and 11, to the event, which they would “remember for the rest of their lives,” she told the Beat.
Taylor, who was wearing a pin in support of a parcel tax measure to fund Redwood City schools, said she was “encouraged” by Obama’s mentioning of education as a priority.
“I think it’s an honor that he’s coming to Redwood City,” agreed Rosemary Arroyo, who staked out a spot behind police barricades three hours before the Presidential motorcade’s expected arrival. “Since it’s so close to our house we can just pop out here with everyone else.”
Others weren’t nearly as impressed by the fundraiser. “[Obama] goes and gets money from the elites. He doesn’t speak to the peons out here,” said Georgine Scott of Gilroy, who came with the Gilroy/Morgan Hill Patriots to protest outside the event.
“It takes away from the whole American dream where you work hard and you would get a chance to succeed,” Scott said of Obama’s policies. “What’s the point?” she wondered, saying “the government is going to take [more] away.”
“They’re taxing the middle class too much,” said a Redwood City resident who did not want to be named but carried a sign with the phrase “tax reform” written on it. “It’s not too far to come out here and show this to the president.”