3rd POTUS pool report: Redwood City

Motorcade left Goldman residence in Atherton at 8:58 p.m. and rolled up El Camino Real to Redwood City, where POTUS arrived around 9:08 p.m. and entered Fox Theater to do some photos. Tickets for this event cost $250 for general admission; $1,000 for premium seating; or $7,500 for a seat plus a photo reception, with up to two additional guests in the photo at $2,500 each.

A campaign official said those in attendance at the Fox Theater included theater owners Eric Lochtefeld and Lori Lochtefeld; Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre; and OFA CA Political Director Peggy Moore.

Press was held outside for about 15-20 minutes before entering through side door; sadly, we missed Ben Harper’s performance, but were treated to a significant chunk of the Tom Hanks-narrated video detailing the president’s first-term accomplishments. The audience cheered and applauded certain moments during the video, including Bill Clinton’s first appearance; passage of the Affordable Care Act, swearing in of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and so on.

The film ended, the stage lights came up and… nothing for a few minutes. The crowd began chanting the president’s name; and then a call and response of “Fired up!” and “Ready to Go!”; and then “Four more years!” Still, nobody.

Finally, after several minutes, POTUS took the stage at 9:46 p.m. to a standing ovation.

“It is good to be back in California,” he said, recognizing and thanking Mayor Aguirre and Ben Harper.

“I’m here because your country needs your help. Four years ago we came together, we came together because we want to reclaim the basic bargain that built the most solid middle class and the most prosperous nation on earth,” he said.

He talked about the American Dream of having equal opportunity for education and prosperity, “no matter who you look like… no matter who you love.”

When he came to office, more and more people were seeing falling incomes, stagnant job growth, unaffordable education. “We built a house of cards, and it ended up collapsing in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

“Together, we fought our way back,” he said. When some said we should let Detroit go bankrtupt, we bet on American workers and innovators “and today the American auto industry is back on top of the world.”

“We’re not satisfied, we still have so much more to do” as so many remain jobless, their home mortgages underwater, first responders and teachers being laid off, he said. And that’s why this election is so important – because we can’t go back to the policies that didn’t work. “We have to move forward, not backwards.”

Productivity and hard work are at an all-time high, he said, but the problem is that it doesn’t lead most people to higher income, better jobs, better lives. What Mitt Romney doesn’t understand is that higher profits aren’t desirable “at the cost of massive layoffs” or “shipping jobs overseas” or “gutting all those investments that create a platform for everybody’s success.”

Republicans want deeper tax cuts while services for working people, infrastructure investments and regulations to keep Wall Street are gutted, he said. “That’s not new – the last guy did this,” he said, referring to President George W. Bush. Romney, he said, “is hoping you don’t remember what happened the last time we tried all that.”

“We don’t want government to solve all our problems – it shouldn’t try,” he said. Not every tax dollar can be spent wisely, he said, and not all people can be helped who doesn’t want to help themselves.

“But that’s different from telling the vast majority of hard-working Americans, ‘You’re on your own” when it comes to affording college, health care, a home, he said. “That’s not who we are, that’s not how America was built.”

It was collective investment that created the platform for enterprises like Google and Facebook to be born and thrive, the president said. “It made us all richer, it gave us all opportunity.”

“That’s why I’m running again for President of the United States of America.”

He said he wants to ensure that by this decades end, the nation once again is turning out more engineers and scientists than anywhere else on earth, with everyone able to afford a chance at education and prosperity.

“I’m going to make sure the next generation of technological innovation takes place right here in Silicon Valley” as well as in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and other cities, he said.

He said the nation’s dependence on foreign oil is at a 15-year low while fuel economy standards are better and clean energy production has doubled.

“For the first time in nine years, we have no Americans fighting in Iraq.” OBL is dead, Al Qaeda is on the run and the war in Afghanistan will be over by 2014. “America is safer and stronger and more respected around the world” thanks to service and sacrifice of service members, and the nation must repay them with appropriate veterans’ services.

Romney, he said, opposed ending Iraq war and doesn’t want to set a date for getting out of Afghanistan. “The nation we need to build is our own. We will end this war responsibly.”

“We’re going to pay down our debt in a way that is fair and responsible” after he inherited a trillion-dollar debt, he said.

“It takes a Democrat to fix these problems after they had run up the tab… so we’re going to finish the job.” That means streamlining government but also reforming tax code so “folks like me, only the wealthiest Americans, pay a little bit more.”

Romney, on the other hand, proposes tax cuts paid for by ordinary Americans, and further diminishment of institutions such as Social Security and Medicare, he said.

“On issue after issue, these guys want to go backwards,” the president said, but there’s no time to re-fight the need for health care reform, or abortion rights, or myriad other issues. It’s time to move forward to a country where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, in which you can’t drown out ordinary people by writing a $10 million check to support or oppose a campaign.

America is about unity, using everyone’s talents to move the nation forward, he said. This election is tough – more negative ads and undisclosed spending through the rise of SuperPACs, but “ultimately the outcome of this election is going to be up to you,” he said.

“Gays love you!” an audience member shouted out; the president didn’t break his rhetorical stride.

“When you decide its time for change to happen, guess what – change happens,” he said. “If people ask you what this campaign is about, tell them its still about hope, its still about change.”

“I still believe in you; I hope you still believe in me,” he said.

POTUS finished at 10:19 p.m. First song on the PA system as he left stage: Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own.”

POTUS is headed to San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel, where he’ll spend the night and hold a campaign fundraiser with Asian American/Pacific Islander contributors tomorrow morning before leaving from Moffett Field around 10 a.m.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Kathy Schrenk

    I kept hearing $1000 to get in; if I had known there was a $250 option I would have considered it.

  • JohnW

    Me too, Kathy. I get e-mails about these events every day from the Obama people, Clinton etc. and haven’t opened them. I’m surprised about the $250. I paid that much to see then Senator Obama when he came to SF early in 2008 as his race for the nomination was just getting started.

  • Elwood

    A fool and his money–

  • Josh Richman

    @#3 – “…are soon elected?”

  • Elwood

    @ # 4

    Quite likely Josh, quite likely!

    We’ve had a fool of a community organizer who never met a payroll or had a real job in his life for four years.

    Things can only get better.

  • Josh Richman

    @#5: I meant that in a nonpartisan way, BTW – it often holds true on either side of the aisle, and I’ve had a button with that slogan affixed to my cubicle wall for years.

  • JohnW

    Re: #5

    So meeting a payroll and having a real job (i.e., private sector) is the test? Guess that disqualifies both Roosevelts, IKE, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Well, Reagan did make speeches for GE and do those 20 Mule Team Borax commercials. The only two in modern times who had real business experience were HST (who failed in business but did pretty well as POTUS) and Jimmy Carter (who succeeded in business but whose presidency is ridiculed by Republicans).

    Community organizer? He started a job training program and a college prep tutoring program. That’s not, as Team Romney has characterized it, handing out brochures.

    By the way, Obama’s first endeavor after graduating from Columbia was working for Business International Corporation, a consulting firm that helped U.S. corporations operate overseas. What was Romney’s first job? Oh, yeah, a consultant at Bain & Company.

    Perhaps more relevant to being POTUS than “meeting a payroll” is understanding the world. Years before Obama became POTUS or served four years on Senate Foreign Relations, he majored in international relations and traveled in places like Pakistan before most Americans ever heard of it. Maybe that’s why Romney thinks Russia is our biggest geopolitical threat but Obama and Colin Powell don’t.

  • Elwood

    @ # 7 John W.

    Well, yes, Barry Sotero was born in Kenya and raised as a Muslim in Indonesia, so I can see why he has such a nuanced world perspective.

  • Elwood

    #7 continued:

    Well, lets see. Teddy Roosevelt led the rough riders. IKE was a career soldier, ending up as General of the Armies. Reagan was an actor and a union man.

    I would say that Jimmy Carter is universally ridiculed, not just by Republicans. Po’ old Jimmuh had the reverse Midas touch. Everything he touched turned to crap.

  • JohnW

    What you say of TR and IKE is true. However, if Romney were running against them in a primary, he would say “They don’t know how the economy works.” Personally, I don’t think Romney does either. His ideas on fiscal policy stink. Leading men up San Juan HIll helped get TR elected but was irrelevant to his time in office. Point is we have had presidents, successful and unsuccessful, from all walks of life. Few (probably none) were elected based on their business careers, and I can think of none where a business background was relevant to their time in office.

    Ridicule of Carter is based on simplistic analysis of the years he was in office. Carter failed as a politician. Took the “Washington outsider” bit too seriously and got rolled by the Ted Kennedy wing of the party. Too much of a micromanager. But the inflation had nothing to do with his policies. Wage and Price controls were under Nixon and “Whip Inflation Now” buttons were under Ford. He did not reappoint the inherited Fed chairman who helped create the inflation and appointed the guy who fixed it. He didn’t run up debt like Reagan and Bush and had one of the better job records, along with Reagan and Clinton. The Iranian revolution had more to do with U.S. policy under IKE and others and nothing to do with Carter. The aborted Iranian hostage rescue was bad luck. Obama was more fortunate. Camp David accords were probably the biggest single foreign policy achievement between the Marshall Plan and the Soviet collapse (for which Reagan gets credit but to which every president from Truman on, including Carter, contributed). Had we followed Carter’s ideas on energy independence, we would have had a lot less grief in the years that followed.

    I’m sure this rant has turned your thinking around completely and that we can count on you for a large contribution to the Obama re-election campaign.

  • Elwood

    Wow, John, I’m impressed!

    Who do I make the check to?

  • JohnW

    #10 continued

    Who was the most successful 20/21st Century businessman who became president — similar to Romney in that he was involved in investing in and running large business enterprises and became very wealthy as a result? He once said that any man who has not made a million dollars by the time he was 40 isn’t worth much. Romney hasn’t said that but seems to think it.

    Herbert Hoover. ‘Nuff said.

    Harding was a successful newspaper publisher — instead of Tea Party, we got Tea Pot Dome.

    Bush 41 dabbled in oil but the achievements for which he is known were not related to business and the economy.

    Bush 43 dabbled in oil and baseball, became prez and ended his time in office with economic collapse and the Great Recession.

    Business background is not a disqualifier for POTUS. Nor is it a qualifier.

  • JohnW

    Knew you would be, Elwood. Just send the check to me, made out to cash. I’ll see that it gets to the right place.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Enough about rich man/poor man, rich dad/poor dad. Let us recall the wisdom of the Victorians: “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate/The Good Lord He created them, and ordered their estate.”

  • Truthclubber

    @14 —

    I like an even more contemporary phrase…

    “To whom much is given, much is expected” — and as Mittens is the son of a wealthy man, Governor, and presidential candidate in his own right, and who was lucky enough to be taught at an elite prep school, and later Harvard — I would think that society expects a LOT of such a man as Mittens who was given so much through the luck of his birth, not simply using his gifts to “fire people who provide services” to himself, among other things.

  • RR senile columnist

    Is this a “gentler, kindler” Truthie?

  • JohnW

    Re #15

    George and Lenore Romney were very much of the “give back” mindset, even though nothing was handed to George on a silver platter. Like Mitt, four of the five sons have pursued mega-wealth-building careers through various types of investing endeavors. One Romney son, Ben, apparently isn’t as enthralled with money and is an internal medicine doctor.

    When running for the nomination in 2008, Romney was asked why none of his sons served in the military; not that they were any more obligated to do so than anybody else. Mitt’s reply was, “One of the ways my sons are showing respect for our nation is helping me get elected, because they think I’d be a great president.”

  • Truthclubber

    @17 —

    If my weekly allowance (extravagant as it would be, given Mitten’s extravagant income from Bain) depended on my sucking up to my dad, of course I would say “Dad (aka Mittens), I think you’d make a swell president, even better than that “sold aluminum paint out of the trunk of his car to pay for gas money” father of yours (aka George)…

    Looks like Mittens adopted the slogan “not to serve, but to be served” that is all too familiar to some (but not all) Taft graduates…

  • Elwood

    “The federal government has spent $5 trillion in debt in the first three years of the Obama administration, compiling more debt than eight years of President George W. Bush.”

    Much more @ http://tinyurl.com/7o5kqme

  • Josh Richman

    @19 – I wonder how that’s reconciled with this.

  • Elwood

    @ # 20 Josh

    Somebody’s lying.

    WAPOST says it’s Obama admin.

    Read the link.

  • JohnW

    Re #21

    As Josh’s link shows, you have to look at the sources of the increased debt, not just howl at the moon about it. The type of analysis presented in the link is exactly what a public company does when it does quarterly financials and explains what factors accounted for changes in revenue, expenses and the balance sheet. If Bush had continued in office, he also would have added another $5T just by continuing his policies. At Most, only $1.4T of the $5T is accounted for by Obama policies. That includes not just the $800B for the stimulus program but also lower revenues due to extending the Bush tax cuts and the cost of backfilling the SS trust fund to make up for the payroll tax cut (which I opposed.)

    In an interview last week, Romney contradicted what he said during the primaries by saying that he wouldn’t go for deep spending cuts in the first year, because it would risk another recession or depression. If you want to blame Obama for the sluggish pace of recovery, go for it. But, absent a more robust recovery, there is no way to reduce the deficits with spending cuts. Evidently, Romney agrees.

  • Elwood

    Gee, John, if you had read my link you’d know that WAPOST doesn’t agree with you.

    But they probably don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.