President Obama brought his college town mini-tour to Charlottesville this afternoon. He was in fine form speaking to a fired-up crowd of about 8,000 at the nTelos Pavillion on the Downtown Mall.
According to local weekly The Hook, the line to get into today's rally was longer than the Downtown Mall itself, which runs for 10-12 city blocks.
I'm not here to write a news story for Blue Virginia covering the rally. There will be plenty of newspaper articles that will do that. But I did want to present a few highlights and takeaways of the rally for me, and, of course, provide some pictures.
Main Takeaway: "It all depends on you"
These days, it is easy to become discouraged with politics. Mitt Romney is running the most despicable, racist, dishonest campaign in modern American history. It is a campaign fueled by hatred and fear. It is the kind of campaign I would expect from a fringe candidate, not from the nominee of a major political party.
Even worse, it is a campaign that is secure in the knowledge that the national political press in this country will, with a few lonely exceptions here and there, likely prove either incapable of or unwilling to challenge its lies and the immoral underpinnings implicit in its strategy.
In the face of this, it is easy to become cynical and lose hope.
Today, President Obama reminded me that this is what Mitt Romney is counting on. That is his strategy. If he cannot win your vote, he wants to make you fed up with the entire system so that you don't vote at all.
For America to be the country we want it to be, a country of true freedom, a country where people are free to control their own health care decisions, where people are free to choose whom they will love, where people know that when they hit hard times their fellow citizens will look out for them - if we want THAT country, we're going to have to fight for it.
[T]hose who oppose change have always bet on your cynicism; they've always bet on a lack of hope...
... throughout American history, they have lost that bet. And they're going to lose that bet this time too. ... I need you. America needs you to close the gap between what is and what might be. ... It all depends on you. Don't worry about letting me down. Don't let America down.
The best line of the rally belonged to Tom Perriello, who noting that Paul Ryan is routinely touted as an intellectual force behind the Republican congress, said, "Only Mitt Romney could look at this Congress and say, 'I want the brains behind this operation.'"
Second- best line
President Obama gets this one. About Romney:
He calls my health care law Obamacare; I call his plan "Romney Doesn't Care."
Another Romney lie debunked: Obama is not running a negative campaign.
Take a look at President Obama's speech from today. Sure, he criticizes Romney and the Republicans - it's a election, for goodness sakes. But neither the overall tone nor substance of the speech is negative or divisive. In fact, the vast majority of the speech was positive and forward looking, and the jibes directed at Romney were relatively gentle, especially so given the deceitful and hateful campaign Romney himself is waging.
Yet another Romney lie debunked: Contrary to Romney assertions, President Obama is running on his record.
Again, take a look at the speech. This idea that the President is seeking to distract attention from his record is pure hogwash.
Here's a few examples:
On student loans:
So we created a college tax credit that's saving middle-class families up to $10,000 on college tuition. We fixed the student loan system that was giving billions of dollars to banks as middlemen. We said let's use that money to double grant aid for millions of students. We won the fight to prevent student loan rates from doubling for more than 7 million students.
Four years ago, we talked about how we could use less foreign oil, reduce the carbon footprint that threatens our planet. And in just four years, we have doubled the generation of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar. We've created thousands of good American jobs because of it. Today, we're less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly 20 years. We're on track to emit fewer greenhouse gases this year than we have in nearly 20 years. We can keep those trends going. And that is all happening because of you.
* * *
One of the things that we've done is develop new fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon. That's double what they are now. That means you've only got to dig into your pocket to fill up your tank half as often. But not only does it save you money at the pump, it moves us closer to energy independence. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as all the cars in the world emit each year combined. This is a smart thing to do. It's the right thing to do.
Four years ago, you believed that nobody in America should go broke because they get sick. Today, because of the new health care law, affectionately known as Obamacare - because of that law, nearly 7 million young people are able to stay on their parent's health insurance plans. Your grandparents are saving money on their prescription drugs. Women have gained access to free preventive care like mammograms and contraception. Thirty million Americans will be able to finally have the security of health care coverage. You can't be barred because of a preexisting condition. You made that happen. That's because of you.
On the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:
And so what I have said not just to you but, most importantly, to those young men and women in uniform who are serving us every single day is that -- (applause) -- you will know where I stand. When I say I will end the war in Iraq, I will end it. When I say that we will go after bin Laden, we'll go after him. And when I said that as we bring our troops home, first from Iraq, now from Afghanistan, that as long as I am Commander-in-Chief, we will serve our veterans as well as they've served us -- I mean it.
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