President Barack Obama wants to continue leading the country out of the second worst recession in American history, he told his supporters Saturday.
Thousands of people filled the BMO Harris Pavilion at the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee and cheered on Obama as he spoke about saving the middle class in his second term. All they needed to do was vote for him in November, he told the enthusiastic crowd.
"I'm not fighting to create Democratic jobs or Republican jobs. I'm fighting for American jobs," Obama said.
When working-class families do well, the country does well, Obama said.
Obama contrasted his position with that of Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
He told the audience that Romney wouldn’t serve the needs of middle-class Americans, and that Romney saw them as "victims." Obama also said Romney would give tax breaks to wealthy Americans and corporations at the cost of entitlement programs designed to help those in need.
Video: Obama Energizes Supporters
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Obama pointed to Romney’s economic plan, which Obama said included giving $5 trillion in tax cuts to wealthy Americans, allowing “the oil companies to write the energy plan,” and giving big oil companies “$4 billion in corporate welfare.”
“We’ve got a very big choice to make in this election,” the president said. “It’s not just a choice between two candidates or two parties, it is between two very different paths for America, two different visions for our future. Now, my opponent, he believes in a top-down economy.”
The crowd booed.
“Don’t boo… vote!” Obama said, a phrase he repeated several times during his 30-minute speech.
Supporters believe in Obama’s vision
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who was among the key Wisconsin Democrats to speak at the rally, estimated the size of the crowd at about 18,000.
Among those who stood in the drizzly weather to listen to the speech was Linda Mueller of Wauwatosa, who said she backs Obama because he supports the middle class.
“Mitt Romney is trying to take away benefits that I’ve worked and paid into," she said. "It’s not an entitlement. I worked and I paid into Social Security and Medicare, and I deserve to have a say."
Leslie Smith of Elm Grove said she believes the upcoming presidential election is largely about social justice.
"He (Obama) can speak most loudly for social justice and fairness in our country, and I think he’s done a remarkable job given the situation we were in four years ago," she said.
Amir Yasrebdoust of Milwaukee said he came out to hear Obama speak because the country is still very divided and he likes Obama’s tenacity.
“I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I mean, I’ve already made up my mind and part of it is I always see him on TV. I love the way he speaks and it would be great to see him live. I haven’t been involved for quite a while in politics, but this year just kind of reinvigorated me because things have become so divisive.
GOP responds to Obama’s visit
Republicans said Obama's trip to Milwaukee was an indication that the Democratic is having problems in Wisconsin — a state he handily won in 2008.
"After an absence of 220 days, President Obama has finally returned to Wisconsin – a state he won by over 14 points four years ago," Ben Sparks, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said in a statement. "In Wisconsin, and all over America, people are tired of the president's false attacks and broken promises.
"Incomes are falling, costs are rising, and jobs are scarce. Our debt has soared past $16 trillion," Sparks added. "America can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama. Mitt Romney has a plan for a stronger middle class that will result in more jobs, higher take-home pay, and a real recovery for our economy."
Danny O’Driscoll, manager of the Wisconsin campaign for Romney, pointed to the country’s stark economic picture – 23 million Americans struggling to find work; an unemployment rate being about 8 percent for 43 straight months; declines in income; poverty at record levels; 46.7 million people receiving food-stamps.
Gov. Scott Walker also released the following statement:
"With his visit today, President Obama admits he has a Wisconsin problem. This election must be about who can best lead America to overcome its greatest challenges, and on every important measure President Obama has failed us over the last four years. It’s time for a change, and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the vision and experience required to confront our challenges and lead us toward prosperity for future generations."