Obama outlines choices in speech at Kent State


President Obama speaks to a crowd of 6,600 Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center. Photo by Laura Fong.

Daniel Moore

President Barack Obama “broke it down” for Kent State students Wednesday about this year’s presidential election meant for them.

“This is not just a choice between two candidates and two political parties,” Obama said. “This is a choice between two fundamentally different visions.”

The president told a crowd of 6,600 people at M.A.C. Center that he is running for second term because he will not let Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney divide the work ethic of the American people.

“We believe in something called opportunity, where everyone gets a fair shot, where everyone plays by the same rules,” Obama said. “You should feel confident that our problems can be solved, our challenges can be met. We’ve still got the world’s best businesses, the best scientists, the best researchers, the best colleges and universities.”

He said although the path he is proposing for the country is not easy, it will lead to a better place. A major goal of his plan, he emphasized, is rooted in affordable education for all students, calling it the “gateway for the middle class.”

“Education was the gateway for opportunity for me,” Obama said. “It is the only reason I’m standing here. Same thing for Michelle. Same thing for many of you in here.”

He said he spent his first term as president “taking on the system,” eliminating the banks from the loan process and covering more students with Pell grants and Stafford loans.

“So, again, you’ve got a choice because Governor Romney wants to roll back all that,” he said. “No child should have her dreams deferred because of an overcrowded classroom. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.”

The president also promised to continue the controversial exploration of the Utica and Marcellus shale gas reserves in the area that — along with investing in wind, solar and clean coal — has created jobs and put the country on pace to cut oil imports in half by 2020.

“Let’s go after the 100-year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet,” he said. “I’m not going to let oil companies write this country’s energy plan … and collect four billion dollars every single year in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. They don’t need it.”

Ohio’s Statewide poll

Obama: 53%

Romney: 43%

Don’t know: 3%

Men in Ohio:

Obama: 44%

Romney: 52%

Don’t know: 4%

Women in Ohio:

Obama: 60%

Romney: 35%

Don’t know: 5%

People ages 18-34 in Ohio:

Obama: 66%

Romney: 31%

Don’t know: 3%

Non-whites in Ohio:

Obama: 88%

Romney: 9%

Don’t know: 3%

Source: Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted from Sept. 18 – 24, 2012. Margin of error: +/- 3 points. Total number of likely voters: 1162.

The president generated one of the most enthusiastic responses of the night when he brought up the issue of women’s reproductive rights.

“Is [Romney] talking about the ‘inside job’ of having politicians control health care choices women are perfectly capable of making themselves?” Obama said, receiving an ecstatic ovation of 25 seconds. “See, I believe in you. I believe in your voice.”

Obama interacted with the crowd on several occasions, responding to their “boo’s” when he mentioned Romney’s tax policy: “Don’t boo — vote.” A young woman in the crowd expressed her love for him, he responded: “I love you, too.”

When an older woman shouted, “We believe in you, Barack!” the president responded, “Because we’ve been working on it, you believe me.”

The president misspoke once, saying he wanted to “export more jobs” instead of “products” — but recovered well.

“Excuse me, I was channeling my opponent there for a second,” Obama said to a rousing cheer.

Obama pointed to Romney’s opposition to the auto industry bailout as evidence that the former governor is willing to write off those who rely on government as “dependent.”

“We said, no, this may be hard … but we’re going to bet on American workers,” Obama said. “And you know what? Today, the American auto industry has come roaring back.”

While government cannot solve all of the problems in the world, Obama told the crowd, it also is not the cause of all problems.

He acknowledged the federal deficit needs cut, but in a way that “doesn’t stick it to middle class families,” such as taxing families making $250,000 or more a year. He also said money saved from ending wars in the Middle East will create jobs in America.

“After a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home,” he said.

Bryan Staul, president of Kent State College Democrats, had a similarly unifying tone in his introductory speech. He said that while growing up in the Rust Belt, he was taught the value of hard work.

That’s why he originally joined the Obama campaign, he said, because the president “understands that hard work and showing up and doing the job is important.”

“Kent State, the American dream is still alive,” Staul said. “A kid from Nowhere, Pennsylvania can stand here — and I’m gonna choke up — and introduce the most powerful man in the world.”

The president ended his speech on a more reconciliatory tone, looking into the camera and repeating his promise he made in 2008 to those 47 percent of Americans who did not vote for him.

“I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices. I need your help. I will be your president, too.”

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].