Liveblog: Barack Obama in Westminster
Barack Obama is in Colorado today making a campaign stop at Mountain Range High School in Westminster. The Colorado Independent is LiveBlogging the event that will include opening remarks by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.
11:15 a.m. — The gym at Mountain Range High School is beginning to fill to capacity as an estimated crowd of 1,500 people throw the “wave” around the gym.
11:23 a.m. — Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Westminster, has taken the stage. Following the lead of the Obama campaign in recent days, Primavera is hammering home the message of a strong middle class and better economy. Obama’s plan will cut taxes. 95 percent of Americans will benefit.
11:27 a.m. — Obama campaign staffer Jennifer Ridder is asking people to help get others to register voters and to become proactive in the campaign. “We need to be knocking on doors if we’re going to win Colorado,” she said.
11:28 a.m. — Jared Polis has taken the stage. He had a bloody primary battle this year with former Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald in the Democratic primary race for the 2nd Congressional District. Polis, a multimillionaire who self-funded much of his recent campaign, is also talking about the economy. People need someone “who really understands how to get us back on top.”
11:31 a.m. — Gov. Bill Ritter has just taken the stage. His applause line was louder than the one for Polis.11:34 a.m. — The economy is also on Ritter’s mind. People are struggling. People on Wall Street have been doing nothing. Now a bailout is coming. Bush is to blame. “People were able to conduct themselves in a fashion that was purely in their own financial (benefit) … I clearly know that Barack Obama will say ‘never again.'”
11:36 a.m. — “This election could come down to Colorado. It could come down to our nine votes. We are a swing state, we could be the swing state, we don’t know,” Ritter said. “We need to do everything possible to elect Barack Obama.”
11:38 a.m. — Ritter just left the stage, but not before informing the crowd that it “will be a little bit before Barack Obama takes the stage.” Or in other words, Obama’s caravan is running late. When Obama’s oppenent John McCain was in Colorado Springs before a crowd of 13,000 people earlier this month, he too was running late. At that event, he and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin started the event about 30 minutes late. Colorado Senate candidate Bob Schaffer worked hard to keep the crowd entertained.
11:40 a.m. — Wasn’t there another famous Democratic candidate for president in 1994 that kept his crowds waiting too? It must be a symptom of being on the campaign trail — nothing starts on time.
11:52 a.m. — With Congress starting its voting on the now notorious Wall Street bailout bill, it will be interesting to see what Obama says during his remarks today about the legislation. Polling across the country shows the American public is against the idea of Main Street bailing out Wall Street. But can he afford not to support it?
Noon — The word floating around the press table is that the bailout bill in Congress is now officially dead. Here is a breaking New York Times story on the vote. Gee, I wonder what Obama is going to say now?
12:09 p.m. — Still waiting. The crowd seems kind of subdued compared to Obama’s Colorado campaign events in recent months. The Obama campaign state director Ray Rivera is now thanking people for their patience. It’s like the old rule in radio: No dead time on the air while people are listening.
12:14 p.m. — If, in fact, the bailout package is on the rocks, Obama might be waiting to see what happens before taking the stage here in Westminster. He will definitely want to make a statement about the status of the package, no matter the status. Talk about working on the fly.12:24 p.m. – Still waiting. The crowd is trying hard to stay energized yelling the Obama slogan “Yes we can!” but the chants only last five to 10 seconds at a time.
12:33 p.m. — A Lakewood resident, whose name was not provided to media, is now speaking about the economy and how Barack Obama is the right person to help lower taxes and bring change. We have heard those lines before. With the news of the bailout package near death in Congress, we think Obama’s speech will have some new meat in it.
12:36 p.m. — Obama has just taken the stage.
12:39 p.m. — Obama came out and thanked the crowd for being patient. He was delayed because of conversations with congressional leaders about the bailout package.
“We need a rescue package that will at least stop the problems in the immediate future … There are going to be some bumps, some trials and tribulations and some ups and downs before we get this done.”
“It’s required for us to stabilize markets and because it ensures that the small-business man can wake up tomorrow morning and still make payroll.”
12:41 p.m. — Obama on the bailout package: “It’s a plan that has improved a good deal since the time it was introduced by the Bush administration.” No blank check without oversight.
12:43 p.m. — Obama is saying that he fought hard to make sure that the Americans who are paying for it are treated as investors. He said he fought for homeowner protection in addition to a package helping Wall Street.
12:45 p.m. — Obama: “A package has not passed. One of the messages I have for Congress is ‘Get this done.'”
12:47 p.m. —– Obama: Americans can’t keep up, are working harder for less. It’s an outrage that America has to bailout Wall Street. Money could have been invested in health care, renewable energy, better schools.
12:48 p.m. — Obama: “This moment did not happen as an accident of history.” Good line. Now he is bashing lobbyists, special interests and the concept of little to no regulation.
12:51 p.m. — Obama on McCain: He wants to give tax money to the rich. He doesn’t understand how bad this economy is. If he thinks his policies will work then “I got a bridge to sell you in Alaska.” Dig on Sarah Palin. Keep moving.
12:53 p.m. — After bashing the George Bush policies of the last eight years that, Obama said, are responsible for the crisis, he is now saying “no one person is at fault for this, let’s be clear.” But, less regulation is still bad. Talks more about working families and the middle-class.
12:54 p.m. — Obama: “I heard the other day that Sen. McCain likes to gamble, to throw the dice. I have to admit, I like a good, friendly game of poker now and then, but we can’t afford to gamble on another eight years of the same failed policies.” Crowd cheering. People on their feet.
12:57 p.m. — Obama is really hammering it home now. “John McCain and I don’t measure the fundamentals of the economy in the same way. My fundamentals aren’t just based off of what is happening on the Dow Jones.”1 p.m. — Back to campaign talking points, but with a new flare to address the bailout.
“I will fight every day of this campaign and every day of my presidency to make sure a crisis like this never, ever happens again. That means taking on the lobbyists and special interests in Washington. That means taking on the greed and corruption on Wall Street.”
1:02 p.m. — Obama is now bringing back an earlier call for another economic stimulus package.
“I have said it before and I’ll say it again: We need to pass an economic stimulus plan right now for working families –- a plan that will help folks cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, and help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases.”
Interesting too that he is talking about more government spending to take place after the implementation of one of the most expensive government actions in recent memory.
1:05 p.m. — Obama is giving props to Gov. Ritter, saying America must follow the lead of Colorado and continue working toward a “new energy economy.” Obama reiterates his pledge to spend $15 billion to create new energy through wind, solar and biofuels.
1:08 p.m. — Going around the horn: Obama is now talking about investing in early childhood education. Pay teachers more. Work to improve schools. No more teaching to the test. In a room filled with many educators, the message is being cheered loudly.
1:10 p.m. — All this talk of investing in a teachers corps, new energy production and a second economic stimulus package, Obama hasn’t mentioned what part of his plan he will have to cut if America is going to afford the stimulus package. His opponent John McCain hasn’t either.
“All of these things will not happen over night,” Obama said.
1:14 p.m. — Obama is finished. Closed his speech along the same campaign stump speech lines he is known for.
“Now it falls to us. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change — if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors and give me your vote on November 4th.”