ATHENS — “Don’t boo, vote.”
That was part of the message delivered by President Barack Obama on Wednesday evening before a confirmed crowd of 14,000 on Ohio University’s College Green in uptown Athens.
“I came here today because I heard you’ve got a pretty fun football team to watch,” said Obama as the crowd erupted in applause. “Undefeated, if I’m not mistaken. A shot at the MAC Championship. Maybe a BCS bid.”
“I also came here today, Ohio, because I want your vote,” he added. “I want your vote. I am not too proud to beg. I want you to vote.”
Obama noted voters in the state of Ohio can vote now, and encouraged everyone to vote.
Speaking of Tuesday night’s debate, Obama said, “there are a couple of things that I noticed that keeps on recurring in this debate and during the course of this campaign. Governor Romney continues to run around talking about his five-point plan for the economy.”
The crowd booed the mention of Romney’s plan, prompting Obama to say, “don’t boo, vote.” A statement he would make each time the crowd would boo.
“We cannot grow this economy from the top down,” stated Obama. “We grow it from the middle out. We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward. That’s why I’m running for a second term for President, and that’s why I want your vote!”
“He’s got a tax plan that doesn’t add up. He’s got a jobs plan that doesn’t create jobs. He’s got a deficit plan that doesn’t reduce the deficit,” Obama said, recapping the Romney policies he spoke about.
“You’ve heard of the New Deal, Ohio. You’ve heard of the Fair Deal. Mitt Romney’s trying to sell you a Sketchy Deal. But we’re not buying it. We know better, because this is the same sketchy deal that we were sold back in the previous administration. We tried it. It didn’t work. We’re not going back. We’re moving forward. I need you to finish what we started.That’s why I’m asking for your vote. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.”
Promises made and promises kept by the administration were noted by Obama and several of those who spoke prior to the President.
“Last night (Tuesday), the issue of keeping promises came up,” he said. “So I had to remind people, four years ago I promised to end the war in Iraq — and I did.”
“I said we’d end the war in Afghanistan — and we are.
“I said we’d refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 — and bin Laden is dead.”
“Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families — and we have, by $3,600.”
“I promised to cut taxes for small business owners — and we have, 18 times.”
“I said we’d put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts. We got every dime back that we used to rescue the banks and we passed a law to end those bailouts for good.”
“As Shannon just told you, I promised to pass health reform so that your insurance companies can’t jerk you around, so that young people can stay on their parent’s plan until they’re 26 — so that people with preexisting conditions can get health insurance — so that women aren’t being charged more than men for the same insurance.”
“I promised we’d repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ — because my attitude is anybody who’s willing to serve our military and sacrifice for us, it shouldn’t matter who they love.
“Four years ago, I said I would do everything I could, every single day, to dig us out of the hole we were left. And because of the incredible resilience of the American people, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we are moving forward again. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now we’ve added more than 5 million new jobs, more manufacturing jobs than any time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 7.8 percent. Foreclosures are at their lowest in five years. Home values are on the rise. Stock market has doubled. Manufacturing is coming back. Assembly lines are putting folks back to work. That’s what we’ve been fighting for. Those are the promises I’ve kept,” stated Obama.
Obama spoke about equal pay for equal work which was part of the first legislation he signed after taking office.
“I’ve got two daughters. I don’t want them paid less than a man for doing the same job. And, by the way, men out there, you don’t want your wives paid less than a man for the same job. So this isn’t just a women’s issue. This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue,” said Obama.
“Governor Romney, for months, refused to say if he’d support the law that we signed that said equal pay for equal work. Just today, his campaign admitted, well, he’s never weighed in on that. Why not? What’s so hard about weighing in on that? Do you believe in equal pay for equal work, or you don’t? I weighed in on it, because that was the first bill that I signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — to make it easier for women to enforce their rights to get equal pay for equal work.”
Obama spoke of the returning troops and the support which should be given to them upon their return home.
“When our troops do come home and take off those uniforms, they need to know as long as I’m your Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military in the world, and we will also make sure those troops get served as well as they’ve served us.”
“Nobody who fought for this country should ever have to fight for a job, or a roof over their heads, or the health care they’ve earned when they come home. That shouldn’t happen. That shouldn’t happen.”
Obama concluded by saying it was people like those in attendance that made the success of the last four years possible.
“We believe in doing things for ourselves, but we also believe in doing some things together to make sure this country succeeds. And that’s what the last campaign was about in 2008. That’s what this one is about. But it only happens because of you. You’re the reason we’ve got a factory worker in Toledo or Lordstown who lost his job but now is back on the line building great cars. You did that.”
“You’re the reason students in Akron, or Columbus, or right here at Ohio University, can get some help paying for their college. You’re the reason why a veteran coming home suddenly has got a New GI Bill that allows them to have a brighter future.”
“That happened because of you. And only you have got the power to keep us moving forward. I can’t do it by myself. I need you. I’m only in Washington because of you.”
“So you can choose the other guy, who wants to reinstitute the top-down policies that got us into this mess — or you can help us move forward with the policies that are getting us out of this mess.”
The crowd, going through airport like security, began to fill Ohio University’s College Green three hours prior to the scheduled event.
Obama’s speech took place on the West Portico of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, the same location as the speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson on May 7, 1964. Johnson was the last sitting President to visit Athens.
Only Johnson and Herbert Hoover (Oct. 1932) spoke in Athens while in office. Eight other former Presidents have visited Athens either before or after taking office, including Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and William McKinley.
Obama has traveled to Ohio 31 times since the start of his Presidency, with 16 of those trips coming in 2012.
Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Athens just six weeks ago. The trip by the President further highlights the importance of Ohio in the upcoming election.
The Ohio University Marching Band performed prior to the event as the crowd began to gather. Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl welcomed all those attending and Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Rabbi Daniele Leshaw, Hillel Director at Ohio University gave the invocation. Ohio University student Gabrielle Giebel sang the National Anthem followed by remarks by Obama for American Regional Field Director in Southeast Ohio Justin Koehler.
Former Ohio Governor spoke to the crowd in support of not only Obama, but democrats Sherrod Brown, Lou Gentile, and Yvette McGee Brown.
Obama was introduced by Shannon Welch, President of the OU College Democrats. Welch noted the importance of the things Obama has done during his first term, including Obamacare and increasing Pell Grants.
Editor’s note: The crowd count was confirmed by Chief Robert Troxel with the City of Athens Fire Department according to a release by the Obama campaign.