Friday, March 7, 2014
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Surrounded by an estimated 6,000 supporters Thursday, President Obama made a forceful, energetic case for a second term, in a state that could decide whether he gets it.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters as he leaves Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester, N.H., Thursday.
Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
Supporters listen to President Obama at Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester, N.H, on Thursday. A crowd estimated at 6,000 people turned out to hear the president.
The president hit familiar notes on health care, foreign policy, the economy and women's rights. But his speech at Veterans Memorial Park was notable for its attempt to build off a successful debate performance Tuesday that his campaign claims has reset the race against Republican Mitt Romney.
Obama, his shirtsleeves rolled up to reveal a pink wristband supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- a subtle nod to the women he hopes will support him on Nov. 6 -- painted Romney as a huckster whose policies are void of details and could hurt middle-class Americans.
Obama echoed the tagline used by the speakers who preceded him, New Hampshire's Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. John Lynch, who said the path to economic prosperity goes through the country's middle class.
The president said economic resurgence starts from the "middle out," not Romney's failed "trickle down" ideology.
Obama zeroed in on Romney's deficit reduction plan, saying the Republican has given Americans precious few details about how he would pay for it.
"Let me tell you something," Obama said. "When a politician doesn't tell you the details of his plan, it's not because it's so good that he doesn't want to spoil the secret."
He added, "Gov. Romney has a tax plan that doesn't add up, a jobs plan that doesn't create jobs and a deficit plan that doesn't reduce the deficit."
Obama devoted extra time to women's issues, an effort that reflects his campaign's emphasis on attracting undecided female voters.
Early polls showed that the president enjoyed margins of support among women, but recent surveys show that Romney has made gains with them.
In Manchester, Obama hammered the former Massachusetts governor for not showing support for an equal-pay bill that the president signed in 2009. He also jabbed at Romney's "binders full of women" gaffe during Tuesday night's debate.
Romney's slip has became an instant Internet meme and has been exploited by the Obama campaign.
"We don't need to order up some binders to find some talented, driven young women who are ready to work right now," Obama said.
Obama emphasized the equal pay bill and women's reproductive choices.
He added, "I have two daughters and I want them to earn as much as somebody else's sons. Any confusion there?"
The president also poked at the New Hampshire Legislature, where some Republicans have tried to pass laws that would restrict access to abortion. Obama said government has no business telling women what to do with their bodies.
The crowd, packed mostly by committed supporters and grass-roots volunteers, soaked it up.
Whenever the crowd booed Romney, Obama urged them, "Don't boo. Vote!"
His call to action underscored one of the president's re-election obstacles: an enthusiasm gap.
Before the speech, Vanessa Hargrove of Jamaica Plain, Mass., said she voted for Obama in 2008. She acknowledged that energy for the president is more subdued in 2012.
"But he deserves another chance, a fresh start," Hargrove said. "He inherited a huge deficit, two wars and a depression. It's not his fault."
The president's campaign blitz in New Hampshire reflects a frantic pursuit of the Granite State's four Electoral College votes.
It was the president's second visit to New Hampshire since September. Polls show that he's popular here but still running in a dead heat with Romney.
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President Barack Obama speaks at Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday.
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A crowd gathers and waits to hear President Barack Obama speak at Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday.