Speaking at Denver’s Lincoln High School Tuesday, President Obama said that if Congress passed his jobs bill it would put thousands of Coloradans back to work. See his speech below.
He said much of the world is moving past America in their investments in education, research and basic infrastructure, and that it is time for America to lead again.
He was joined at Lincoln by a who’s who of Colorado Democrats, including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, Governor John Hickenlooper, former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, and U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, and current Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Neither Mr. Obama’s choice of Colorado, nor of this heavily Latino high school in a struggling part of Denver, were remotely accidental. He carried Colorado in 2008, and with his support wobbling in other swing states like Ohio, analysts believe he will need to hold on to it next year to put together a winning electoral map.
But Colorado, as much as any state, symbolizes the ebb tide in Mr. Obama’s political fortunes. He accepted the Democratic nomination in this state and signed the $787 billion stimulus package here. But with the jobless rate here rising to 8.5 percent from 7.4 percent since then, even Democrats here say Colorado could be an uphill battle.
“If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher makes me a class warrior, a warrior for the middle class, I will accept that; I’ll wear that as a badge of honor,” Mr. Obama said. “Because the only class warfare I’ve seen is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade now.”
For all the populist fire on display, Colorado may be kinder to Mr. Obama than the traditional battlegrounds of the Midwest because of its more affluent and educated independent voters.
While Mr. Obama has lost support among independents generally, he retains a narrow approval rating — 50 percent to 43 percent — among those who earn more than $100,000 a year, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. A senior adviser to Mr. Obama said his message of innovating to keep America competitive would also resonate with the technology workers sprinkled through Denver’s suburbs.
On Tuesday, Obama wrapped up a three-day, three-state western swing by rallying students and teachers at Abraham Lincoln High School in Denver, his latest method of highlighting the education proposals and putting public pressure on congressional Republicans to support the jobs bill.
“Places like South Korea are adding teachers in droves to prepare their kids for the global economy. We’re laying ours off left and right,” Obama told students and teachers in the school’s parking lot. “All across the country, budget cuts are forcing superintendents to make choices they don’t want to make. . . . It’s unfair to our kids; it undermines their future; it has to stop.”
Video of the speech, from Colorado Pols: