Obama derides Romney as pitchman for 'folks at the top'
President Barack Obama, foreground, greets attendees after speaking at a rally at Veterans Park in Manchester. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER -- To chants of “Four more years!” and with protesters blocks away, President Barack Obama lit into Republican Mitt Romney at a campaign rally in the heart of the state's largest city Thursday, calling the Republican a pitchman for a tax plan that favors the rich and a jobs plan that won't create jobs.
The Romney campaign dismissed Obama's speech to about 6,000 people at Manchester's Veterans Park as “more misleading attacks to distract from his failed record, his reckless spending and his inability to present a discernible vision to move our country forward.”
Nineteen days before the election, Obama gave an impassioned, 25-minute attack on Romney and defense of his own first term in office as he bid for the state's four, potentially crucial, electoral votes.
“First of all, I'm fired up about this weather!” said Obama, who was making his fifth visit to the state this year and the ninth of his presidency. Looking at the blue sky and bright fall foliage surrounding him, he said, “This is spectacular.”
As Obama derided Romney, the crowd booed. But Obama told them, “Don't boo, now! Vote!” appealing to his Democratic base to work in the final stretch before the election to help him win New Hampshire, which he won easily four years ago. Recent New Hampshire polling has the race either in a dead heat or with either candidate with a narrow lead.
Obama said Romney has a “sales pitch” for a “five-point, PowerPoint plan for the economy.
“But as we saw the other night (at the second presidential debate), what he's selling is not a five-point plan. It's really just a one-point plan. Folks at the top get to play with a different set of rules than you do.”
The wealthy, he said, “can pay lower taxes, they can keep their money offshore and they can buy companies loaded up with debt, lay off workers, strip their pensions, send their jobs overseas.” And, he said, “They can still make money doing it -- make a big profit.
“He's trying to sell you a sketchy deal,” Obama said.
The President's 2008 foe, Sen. John McCain, was also in the state Thursday, speaking at a fund-raiser for candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne in Nashua. McCain will be on the stump for Romney on Friday, with town hall events in Peterborough and Raymond, accompanied by Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Gov. John Lynch introduced Obama as a man of “poise, vision and leadership, ” while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, whose granddaughter, Ellie, sang the national anthem at the event, said, “This President knows the American dream has always been grounded in middle-class values.”
After Obama's visit, his New Hampshire campaign launched a 24-hour RV “Tour for the Middle Class” that includes several officials who support Obama and will stop in all 10 counties.
Obama hammered on that theme, saying, “New Hampshire, we cannot grow this economy from the top down. The economy grows from the middle out.”
He said Romney in the debate “took another stab at trying to sell us this $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy. He took another swing at it and he whiffed.”
Romney, said Obama, has “a tax plan that doesn't add up. He's got a jobs plan that doesn't create jobs. He's got a deficit plan that doesn't reduce the deficit.”
Obama insisted he has kept his promises.
He said he ended the war in Iraq, is ending the war in Afghanistan, and, “I said we'd re-focus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have.”
He noted that Osama bin Laden is dead and contended al-Qaida “is on the path to defeat.”
Obama said he has cut middle-class taxes by $3,600 and has cut taxes for small business owners 18 times. He said his health care plan doesn't allow insurance companies to “jerk you around when you get sick” and allows young people to stay on their parents' plans until they are 26.
He cited his repeal of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy for the gays in the military and said he rescued the auto industry.
Obama said the economy is improving, with businesses adding more than 5 million new jobs in the past 30 months and unemployment falling from 10 to 7.8 percent.
He said that under his new fuel standards, “by the middle of the next decade your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.” Energy generation from renewable sources of energy have been doubled and “we've increased the production of oil and natural gas,” he said.
He said he would end “$4 billion-a-year in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare,” in the form of subsidies, to oil companies.
Appealing for the all-important women's vote, which is now split nationally according to recent polls, Obama mocked Romney's comments in the Tuesday debate that he received “a binder full of women” to find women for posts in Massachusetts state government as governor.
“See, we don't have to order up some binders to fund qualified, talented, driven young women who can learn and excel,” Obama said. “And when these young women graduate, I want them to receive equal pay for equal work.”
While Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Romney “still won't say” if he supports it, said Obama. “I don't know why this is so complicated. This is not that hard.”
He also said women should “make their own health care decisions.
“I know you've got a state Legislature up here who sometimes acts like it knows better when it comes to women's health care decisions,” said Obama. “Governor Romney has the same approach.”
Obama also plugged his plan to raise taxes on incomes of more than $250,000, and said he will not "ask middle-class families to give up” key tax deductions.
Obama said he is looking forward to the third and final debate with Romney on Monday, which will focus on foreign policy.
“As long as I'm your commander-in-chief,” he promised, “I will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.”
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said Thursday's speech showed, “The President is out of new ideas, out of time and out of excuses to explain his failed leadership and broken promises. Mitt Romney has a real plan to create 12 million jobs, and as President he will work with members of both parties to cut spending, restore our AAA credit rating, and get our economy growing again.”
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