Vail Valley Voices: Obama crowd revved up
Ryan Summerlin September 14, 2012
I stood in a muddy “mosh pit” at Lions Park at Golden for two hours Thursday morning, expecting someone to start passing bodies overhead.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind the wait, occasionally chanting “four more years” and singing along to whatever Springsteen tune was playing on the sound system.
I wondered if Republican Joe Coors appreciated having all of those Democrats in his back yard. My 82-year-old dad, a lifetime Democrat and party organizer, would have been thrilled.
Obama was strong, giving what I call a “kitchen sink” stump speech that began with a promise to catch the those responsible for killing Americans in Libya earlier in the week. He said he has plans to build the economy in part by supporting the development of alternative energies that will also continue to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
He promised the thousands assembled that he would continue to work toward reducing the budget deficit, but admitted that it’s going to take years to repair the country’s finances. He said that even though taxes would go up for the minority of individuals making more than $250,000 per year under his plan, the middle class would not see a tax hike as they would under the Republican plan.
He reminded everyone that he needed more Democrats in Congress in order to have his plan move forward. He committed to maintaining a strong defense, supporting education spending — especially for math and science, strengthening health care programs, supporting women’s rights, and upholding the civil rights of all Americans regardless of sexual preference.
The president reviewed his successes, the GM bailout, economic and job growth, ending the war in Iraq and other successes in the fight against terrorism.
He acknowledged that this likely will be a tight presidential race this November and encouraged supporters to get out to register voters, work the phone bank, and enlist more volunteers.
Golden is located in Jefferson County, considered by some to be a lynchpin county in the upcoming election.
I know a lot of conservatives would like to think that only liberals support Obama, but I saw people from all walks of life there, and spoke with many for whom this was their first political rally. Yes, there were a lot of students, LGBTs, Latinos and African Americans, There also were small-business owners, moderate Republicans who don’t like the GOP swing to the right, mothers with their children, middle-aged women, white collar and blue collar workers, veterans and active military.
It was the first time I’ve seen such a rally from the ground. The other two presidential campaigns I saw were from a journalist’s point of view, with special seating, special access and all the perks.
I remember a campaign-fatigued Jimmy Carter one midnight in August 1979 at Fulton, Ill., during his riverboat campaign down the Missississippi. The man was simply exhausted from dealing with Iran and a lousy economy. Rosalind Carter had to do a lot of the hand-shaking with the grim-faced factory workers and farmers that lined the fences. It felt like more of a wake than a campaign. Major media was nowhere to be found. One could tell that his staff was not at all convinced their boss would be elected to another term.
It was a very different mood at a Feb. 6, 1984, “birthday celebration” for Ronald Reagan at the high school gymnasium in Dixon, Ill., just prior to the official campaign kickoff that year. People stood in the freezing weather for hours just to get in and hear their hometown boy made good. An explosive enthusiasm filled the room. It didn’t matter what he said — they loved it. National media attended his every move.
I’d have to say that I wouldn’t be singing a dirge for the Obama campaign right now. It’s more like a celebration, and speaking from my vantage, the GOP has a lot of work to do if the party wants Romney to win come November.
Maggie Fiorini is a former radio and newspaper journalist now living in Denver.