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.