Obama comes out swinging in Council Bluffs

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August 13th, 2012

Omaha, NE – President Obama kicked off a campaign swing through Iowa Monday with a stop in Council Bluffs, just over the river from Omaha.

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Speaking to a crowd of over four thousand people, President Obama began his speech with a nod to his Midwest surroundings. The region is in the midst of an extreme drought that’s weighing on farmers and ranchers faced with devastated crops. “America depends on farmers and ranchers to put food on the table, depends on farmers and ranchers to feed our families,” Obama said. “So we’ve got to be there for them.”

President Obama campaigned in Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs Monday morning, addressing a crowd of over 4,000 people. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

The President, who was introduced by Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, said his administration is sending $30 million to help farmers with irrigation and another $150 million to purchase meat and fish in order to ease market supply. “That’s what we do,” he said. “We take care of each other, and when tough times strike our neighbors, we give them a hand.”

Obama urged Congress to pass the farm bill, which is currently stalled in the House, saying that would provide further protection for farmers. He used the opportunity to take a swing at his opponent’s newly-announced running mate Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan is also in Iowa, campaigning for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

“Unfortunately, right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law,” Obama said. “I’m told that Governor Romney’s new running mate Paul Ryan might be around Iowa the next few days. He’s one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way.”

The President drew a stark contrast with the Republican ticket, linking Congressman Ryan’s now-famed budget proposal to Romney’s economic philosophy. Earlier this year, Ryan proposed massive reductions in healthcare and “safety net” spending along with a package of tax cuts in a proposal hailed by Tea Party supporters as “courageous” and raked by Democrats as “extreme.”

Obama said Ryan’s plan demonstrates what he said is Romney’s belief that providing tax cuts for wealthy Americans will ultimately create jobs for the middle class. The President said he fundamentally disagrees. “Does this sound familiar to you?” he said. “They have tried to sell us this trickle-down theory before. And guess what? Every time it’s been tried it has not worked.”

“It did not work then. It won’t work now. It won’t create jobs, it won’t lower our deficit, it is not a plan to move our economy forward,” Obama concluded.

Iowa is an important state for President Obama. It’s where his campaign for the Democratic nomination took off in 2008 with an unexpected caucus win. But kicking off his three-day campaign swing in Council Bluffs had other significance. Just across the Missouri River, Omaha is another potentially important city for the Obama campaign. In 2008, Omaha sent one of Nebraska’s electoral votes to the President, and in a race projected to be tight, he might need that support again.

Many in the crowd had traveled to the event from Omaha, and they let the President know it. “And Omaha,” the President responded. “We love you.”

Not many Nebraska politicians joined the Obama crowd, however. Notably, Democratic Senate candidate Bob Kerrey did not attend. Kerrey has been dismissive of Obama’s chances in Nebraska, a point the Nebraska Republican Party has jumped on. In a statement, the party chairman said the fact the two are not campaigning together indicates the Republican opposition in Nebraska is “too much to overcome.”

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