In the middle of her speech in Leesburg Oct. 9, first lady Michelle Obama asked the rowdy audience of 1,300 to consider something.
Obama asked the crowd to remember where the nation was when her husband took office.
“A mess!” screamed a man amid the sea of Obama supporters.
The first lady seemed to agree. She noted that the economy was losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month in early 2009. Moreover, the American auto industry was then on the verge of collapse, and banks had tightened their belts when it came to giving loans for houses and cars.
“He inherited an economy in rapid decline,” Michelle Obama said of her husband.
The first lady then shifted her speech, onto a message of what has happened since then. She ran through a list of what she considers her husband’s finest achievements as president.
Under President Obama, the first lady said, more than 5 million new jobs have been created. Because of the president, Michelle Obama shouted, young adults can afford college because of the Democrat’s investment in Pell grants; millions of lives have been affected by the new health care law, the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act; the war in Iraq has ended and Osama Bin Laden has been killed; gay soldiers no longer have to hide their sexual orientation; and immigrant children can now learn and contribute to the country without worrying about being deported. All these accomplishments, said the first lady, have been landmark successes achieved in Barack Obama’s term.
In her nearly 30-minute address, the first lady didn’t once mention the name of her husband’s challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, who has been on a momentum tear in the polls the past week. Quickly following the first presidential debate Oct. 3, Romney drew even to the president. Some polls show Romney with a lead – notably a Pew Research Poll that has the Republican ahead by four points. On Oct. 8, Romney for the first time claimed an advantage in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, which includes, Pew, Rasmussen, Gallup and others.
Yet Michelle Obama neglected to make an attack on the Republican. She spent the first half of her speech touching on the “character, courage and conviction” of her husband. What keeps President Obama going, she said, are the hopes and dreams of the people he serves.
The decisions before the president aren’t just about the “bottom line” – they’re about “laying a foundation for the future,” she said.
Michelle Obama said investing in infrastructure and education is paramount in ensuring a sound future for the country.
Balancing the federal budget has been a key issue to the 2012 race, with President Obama taking heat for adding $5 trillion to the federal deficit, which currently sits at approximately $16 trillion.
As she did in Prince William County over the summer, Michelle Obama remarked that the economy is heading in the right direction. She touted the private sector job market, which has seen approximately 30 consecutive months of growth.
“In America we always move forward, we always have,” Michelle Obama said. “Elections are always about hope.”
President Obama received a small dose of reliving news Oct. 5 when the monthly jobs report from the labor department showed the unemployment rate had dipped below 8 percent to 7.8 percent in September. That mark was the best of Obama’s presidency, the first lady said.
Michelle Obama was introduced by Virginia resident Dana Monteaux, who made the most direct attack on Romney. Monteaux said she considers herself one of the “47 percent,” referencing Mitt Romney’s now infamous comments made at a private fundraiser. Romney said he doesn’t have to worry about 47 percent of the people in the country because they see themselves as victims who depend on the government and think their entitled to health care, food and housing.
Monteaux is a full-time caretaker for her husband who is battling a debilitating genetic disease that attacks his vascular system. Monteaux’s husband’s father and grandfather died from the disease.
Because the Monteauxs only source of income is Social Security, Dana Monteaux said she and her husband, who can’t see, is paralyzed and has had 12 or 13 strokes, are part of the “47 percent.”
“We absolutely would not be able to get the medical care we need, or be able to afford it if Mitt Romney were in office,” Monteaux said after Obama’s speech.
Dana Monteaux said she can only afford her husband’s medical bills and prescriptions because of Medicare.
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