Obama pushes for middle class
President brings his message to Kirkwood
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 11:09
President Barack Obama stressed the plight of the middle class during a campaign stop at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday. The public lined up for hours before his visit for the chance to hear and see the leader of the free world.
In his appearance at Johnson Hall, Obama expressed the importance of the middle class and how many people are united by struggle. “America has never been a country of people looking for handouts,” Obama said. “We’re a nation of workers and dreamers and doers.”
He justified his policies and decisions as president by explaining that the state of the nation had turned. “People were working harder for less” and “the cost of health care and college were going through the roof," he said.
Aiming for a stronger economy
Obama, who is campaigning for a second term, acknowledged that turning things around was not going to be easy. “We knew it would take more than one year or one term or maybe even one president,” he said.
He explained that his mission was not just to bring about recovery from the recession but to “build an economy where that work pays off” and where people “can have the confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead.”
The president attacked the possibility of taxes rising on Jan. 1, which is when tax cuts are scheduled to end. He criticized the idea that tax rates would return to the levels of President Bill Clinton’s administration. Obama added that Clinton’s presidency “was a time when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history.”
“I want goods stamped with ‘Made in America’ selling all around the world," Obama declared. He spoke of his desire to have high-tech manufacturing "take root in places like Cedar Rapids and Newton and Des Moines.”
After an audience member yelled, “Be sure you help our vets,” Obama responded that his administration is helping war veterans. “We’ve actually increased veterans funding since I’ve been president higher than any time in 30 years,” he replied.
The president noted the amount of advertisements that bombard Iowans during this time of year. “There are more negative ads. There’s more cynicism,” he said.
Ben Rogers, a Democrat and a Linn County supervisor, said he was “concerned about negative ads” and the “money focus” that takes away from the issues. Rogers said he believed Obama “hit on all the right notes” in his speech.
Joyce Williams of Marion attended the event with her husband Blair, a veteran. She said she believed Obama had “done a good job for veterans,” adding that she wished “more people would know that.”
Nancy Nish, who is “pro-Obama,” did not have a ticket to go inside Johnson Hall, but she was among the crowd that listened to the speech as it was broadcast over loud speakers outside. Among those outside were Republican protesters.
Nish, who recently moved back to Iowa from Missouri, said she still believes in Obama, noting that "the alternative is frightening.” Nish, an unemployed, single mom, said she felt “left in the dust,” but she doesn’t blame Obama. She added he couldn’t be expected to “turn economy around that fast.”
Kirkwood president meets with U.S. president
Mick Starcevich, president of Kirkwood, had a personal meeting with Obama. Starcevich said he felt honored by Obama’s visit to the community college.
Knowing Obama’s love of basketball, Starcevich gave him a Kirkwood T-shirt to wear when practicing. They discussed Pell Grants and the need for support for education, Starcevich said. He said he told the president that “students are coming out (of school) with too much debt.”
Also discussed was Kirkwood’s recently installed wind turbine, which Starcevich told the president was partially supported by the Obama administration’s funding.
Starcevich said he was impressed with Obama's ability "to connect with the audience and speak on our level.”
Third visit to Eastern Iowa
This was Obama’s second visit to Cedar Rapids since January. He also campaigned in Iowa City in April.
Editor's note: Writer and photographer Kirsten Kraklio is a former news editor and former managing editor at the Communique. She covered Obama's visits to Eastern Iowa during spring semester.