Obama campaign in Richmond

Published 10:56 am Monday, May 7, 2012

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, participate in a rally at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Saturday. FRANK A. DAVIS/TIDEWATER NEWS



RICHMOND—Nearly 8,000 attended President Barack Obama’s reelection kickoff at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Saturday.

Introducing the President, First Lady Michelle Obama told supporters this election will be closer than the last when he carried Virginia by six percentage points, becoming the first Democrat in 44 years to win the state’s electoral votes.

The President told supporters “this election will be about a choice between policies of the past or progress, and a make-or-break moment for the middle class.”

He offered himself as the strongest chance the middle class has for survival while casting the presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney as a potential president who will sanction the agenda of conservatives in Congress.

“But Virginia, I tell you what, we can’t give him the chance,” Barack Obama said. “Not now. Not with so much at stake. This isn’t just another election. This is a make-or-break moment for America’s middle class.”

He said Romney would spend trillions on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and stop regulations “of the reckless behavior on Wall Street.”

“Somehow, he and his friends in Congress think that the same bad ideas will lead to a different result,” Obama said. “Or they’re just hoping that you won’t remember what happened the last time we tried it their way. Virginia, I’m here to say that we were there, we remember, and we’re not going back.”

Virginia is a swing state that could be key to his securing a second term. Obama said that while the nation’s economy still faces headwinds, it’s making progress.

“On issue after issue, we just can’t afford to spend the next four years going backward,” he said.

America cannot afford to re-fight battles over issues such as health care reform, abortion or planned parenthood, Obama said.

“We’re not turning back the clock,” he said. The question in the election is whether America will be better off “if we have the courage to keep moving forward.”

“I refuse to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut by cutting medical research or eliminating health insurance for poor or elderly Americans on Medicaid,” Obama said.

The decision to hold one of the first two rallies of this campaign in Richmond highlights Virginia’s status as a battleground with 13 electoral votes. Virginia is considered one of the most valuable toss-up states, maybe only second to Florida with 29 electoral votes and Ohio with 18.

This is the President’s fifth trip to central Virginia since September 2010; his campaign has opened 13 offices around the state.

Obama wrapped up his remarks by portraying the Nov. 6 election as a choice between going forward, or “turning back the clock.”

“I still believe, Virginia, that we’re not as divided as our politics suggest,” Obama said. “We are not Republicans or Democrats first; we are Americans first. I still believe in you and I’m asking you to still believe in me.”