Amid chants of “Yes, We Can” and the new campaign slogan, “I’m In”, President Barack Obama brought his 2012 re-election campaign to Los Angeles on April 21, addressing a large crowd that gathered for a political rally at the Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City.
The president outlined many of his successes since being elected in 2008, including a drop in nationwide unemployment, an increase in jobs, and investment in the green energy sector. Obama also touted the progress that has been made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and announced plans to proceed with projects designed to improve the country’s infrastructure and put more people back to work. The president also announced that he is basing his 2012 presidential campaign in Chicago to get a fresh perspective, and he wants to hear from as many Americans as possible about their vision for the future.
“The conversation that you hear in D.C. is very different than the conversation you hear around kitchen tables and water coolers around the country. Our re-election campaign will be the first one in modern history based outside of Washington D.C.,” Obama said. “I don’t want our campaign to be hearing only from pundits and powerbrokers and lobbyists, I want it to be hearing from the folks who got me into the Oval Office. I want to make sure we are putting the campaign in your hands.”
Obama acknowledged it has been a “tough climb” since he was elected, and admitted that “the climb has been a little steeper than we anticipated.” He said millions of people have lost their jobs during the recession and hundreds of thousands more have lost their homes. Obama said, however, that progress is being made, and there have been many successes. He said the country has recently experienced a significant drop in unemployment, and that millions of jobs have been created. The president also said that the “Big Three” auto manufacturers — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — have rebounded from serious financial problems, and that the housing market is beginning to turn around.
“Two-and-a-half years later, the economy is roaring again. Two-and-a-half years later, we are creating jobs again. Two-and-a-half years later, the financial system works again, and two-and-a-half years later, small business are opening their doors again,” Obama said. “Over the last four months, we have seen the largest drop in unemployment since 1984. Over the last thirteen months, we have created over two million private sector jobs. Some of the things that weren’t popular, that some folks said wouldn’t work, have worked. We’ve made progress, but our work is not finished. We are still climbing.”
Obama highlighted some of the current domestic plans he is working on, including programs that will make it easier for students to get loans for college, and initiatives that will create growth in the green sector. Obama addressed the current rise in gasoline prices, and said long-term solutions involve investing in new technologies that will reduce American dependency on foreign oil.
“You’ve got to drive fifty miles to your job, and you can’t afford the new hybrid. So you’ve got that old beater, giving you eight miles to the gallon, and your budget is already strained, that’s tough,” Obama said. “But let me tell you something, we are making a difference. We have increased world oil production, but more importantly, we have also said to ourselves, ‘how are we going to find those kinds of alternative energy sources?’ New energy sources that will not only reduce our dependence on oil, but also clean up the planet in the process.” Obama said part of that plan is to increase the number of companies that produce batteries for electric vehicles. He said when he took office, the United States only had two percent of the electric vehicle battery industry, but through public and private investment, in five years the U.S. will have 40 percent of that market. He added that fuel efficiency standards have been created that will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and said it is time to eliminate the $4 billion in subsidies for oil companies.
In terms of creating jobs, Obama said he will continue to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, and added that the federal government will continue to move forward on creating high-speed rail, including a system already in the planning phase in California.
“Because of you, we have put hundreds of thousands of folks back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure. Now we have to make sure America is not just rebuilding and repairing the old infrastructure, we’ve got to be building the new infrastructure. The high-speed rail, the high-speed Internet, the smart grid that can help electricity move around in more efficient ways. That is part of what America has always been about. We can put America to work right now doing the work that needs to be done, but I am going to need your help to do it.”
In regards to healthcare, the president stated that the comprehensive healthcare bill passed by Congress needs to be protected from forces “who want to dismantle it.” He also said one of the most significant accomplishments during the past two-and-a-half years was the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, enabling LGBT Americans to openly serve in the military, as well as his appointment of two female justices to the United States Supreme Court. He said one of his top accomplishments was ending military operations in Iraq, something he had promised to do during his first campaign.
“Now, we’ve got to protect the changes that we have made, and we have got more changes to make. We still have to pass comprehensive immigration reform. We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. We still have to have a more comprehensive energy policy. We have to keep working for the America that we believe in, the America we want to leave to our children,” Obama said. “I believe in a country where the government lives within its means. We’ve got to cut spending Washington. We have got to eliminate every dime of waste, and if we want to take responsibility for the debt we owe, we have to make some tough decisions. We have got to decide what we can do without to make sure we maintain those things that we care deeply about, and that is going to require shared sacrifice. But let me tell you what I won’t do. I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing the things that have always made America great.”
Obama said many of the accomplishments have been made during the last two-and-half-years were made possible through public support. He added that he supports a tax increase for the top two percent of the richest Americans, but has cut taxes for everyone else. He also said that he will need a great deal of support in the future to carry on the work he started and reach his goals.
“That’s our vision for America. It’s not a vision for a small America, it is a vision for a big America. We do things big,” Obama added. “My vision for America is one where we live within our means but are still saving for the future. That is the idea at the heart of America. That is the idea at the heart of our last campaign, and that is the idea at the heart of this campaign.”