Obama encircled by Romney campaign in Springs

Obama derides GOP economic proposals as ‘this trickle-down tax cut fairy dust’
The Colorado Statesman

The Democratic president of the United States and the Republican governor of Louisiana spent a good part of the day last Thursday laying out sharply different prescriptions for the nation’s economy in appearances in Colorado Springs.

President Barack Obama capped a two-day, four-city campaign swing through Colorado with an outdoor rally at Colorado College, where a sun-drenched crowd estimated at 4,200 filled the liberal arts school’s Cutler Quad to hear him rip apart Republican proposals while making a case that he’s put the country on the right track.

President Barack Obama blasts Republican opponents in a campaign speech. “They tried to sell us this trickle-down tax cut fairy dust before. And guess what, it didn’t work,” he said.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“The reason it is an intense campaign is because the choice that we face in November could not be bigger,” Obama said. “It’s not just a choice between two candidates or two political parties. It is a choice between two fundamentally different visions about how we move this country forward.”

President Barack Obama waves to a crowd estimated at 4,200 after delivering a campaign speech on Aug. 9 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Meanwhile, a bus supplied by the Romney campaign — bearing Gov. Bobby Jindal, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez — encircled Obama and made several stops in heavily Republican El Paso County to rally the region’s conservative faithful.

President Barack Obama visits with teacher Christy Howard after she introduced him at a rally at Colorado College in Colorado Springs on Aug. 9. The campaign of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney was also out in force that day, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and a Utah congressman talking to Colorado Springs residents about economics.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Interior Secretary and former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, an alumnus of Colorado College, introduced Obama by pointing to 29 straight months of job growth and 4 million jobs added under the Democratic administration. Local elementary school teacher Christy Howard welcomed Obama to Colorado Springs, noting that her son turns 18 just days after the election, so is volunteering with the campaign since he won’t be able to vote.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar introduces President Obama at a rally on Aug. 9. Salazar, a former U.S. senator, gave a shout out to the school, his alma mater.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Springs stop followed a morning rally at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo and Wednesday rallies in Grand Junction and Denver, where Obama was introduced by women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke for a speech devoted to what the campaign termed “Women’s Health Security.” But the president’s latter three speeches focused on the economy.

Supporters wave signs at a Barack Obama campaign rally. School officials estimated that 4,200 people attended the event.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Casting the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as bereft of serious proposals — except for ones he labeled retreads of the same policies that drove the country into a ditch — Obama blasted Republicans for obstructing solutions to the nation’s economic woes.

The crowd watches President Barack Obama deliver a campaign speech on Aug. 9 in Colorado Springs.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“What is standing in our way right now is our politics in Washington,” he said. “It’s a bunch of folks who think compromise is a dirty word, who think that the right way forward is to go backwards to the same top-down economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal poses for a snapshot with Janet Rogers and former Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera at a Romney campaign rally.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Obama derided GOP economic proposals as “this trickle-down tax cut fairy dust” and claimed that his opponent’s tax policy would lead to tax hikes for middle class families in order to fund huge tax breaks for millionaires. “They don’t have a plan, and the plan they’ve got they can’t sell,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez fires up a crowd gathered on Aug. 9 at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs in front of a Romney campaign bus. The crowd had gathered to hear Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, right, a prominent Romney surrogate, accompanied by Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“Look, Mr. Romney, his friends in Congress, their basic economic plan is really simple to describe,” Obama said. “It’s not complicated. What they say is, on the one hand, they want to eliminate regulations on Wall Street banks — even after this crisis — or regulations on insurance companies, or regulations on unscrupulous lenders, or regulations that keep our air and water clean. So that’s part number one. And then No. 2, a big part of their plan, is to cut taxes a lot more for the wealthiest Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, says that President Barack Obama “envisions an entitlement society, he believes in big government,” at a campaign rally for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. State House candidates Dan Nordberg and Jennifer George accompanied the bus tour through El Paso County.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

At one of four campaign stops — including a visit to a GOP phone bank in Fountain and a rally that drew about 150 supporters to downtown Colorado Springs’ Acacia Park, about a mile from the Obama rally — Jindal laid out his own two-point argument.


A protester holds a sign that reads, “Ms. Flucke [sic] pay for your own contraception” while waiting for the arrival of a Romney campaign bus at a strip mall. It's a reference to activist Sandra Fluke, who a day earlier introduced President Barack Obama in a bid to appeal to women voters.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“I’ve only got two problems with our president,” said Jindal at a morning rally in a strip-mall parking lot a couple hours before Obama spoke. “No. 1, he’s the most liberal president since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. My second problem with him is that he’s the most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. I don’t mean to offend Jimmy Carter by saying that.”

Jindal urged the crowd of about 100 to take the president at his word.

“He did promise us that if he didn’t turn this economy around in three to four years, this would be a one-term proposition,” he said as supporters cheered and voiced their approval. In addition, Jindal said, “He also promised that the stimulus would bring unemployment down, but it’s been above 8 percent for a record 42 months.”

The day before, another prominent Romney surrogate, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, rode the bus and attacked Obama in the Denver area. Both Jindal and Portman were considered possible vice presidential picks, and speculation swirled during their visits, which came just days before Romney named Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Sounding a theme the Romney campaign has hammered relentlessly, Jindal framed the choice between more of the same and a fresh approach.

“The bottom line is, he has tried, and he has failed,” Jindal said, shaking his head with apparent disappointment. “He has done the best he can, but his best isn’t good enough for America. But you know what’s so scary? Look at what he’s done. In the face of the greatest recession since the Great Depression, all he knows how to do is tax more, spend more and borrow more.”

Jindal agreed with Obama about one thing: voters will face one of the clearest choices they’ve had in a long time between competing visions of the government’s role in the economy.

“We’ve probably not had two candidates more different in terms of their experiences, in terms of their philosophical approaches to government, in many, many years,” he said.

The stakes in the November election are profound, Jindal said.

“This is really, truly an inflection point, a turning point in our country to get back to what the Founding Fathers intended, in terms of a limited federal government and the freedoms they enshrined in our Constitution,” he said.

Then Jindal compared the U.S. government’s borrowing with the debt crisis engulfing Europe, saying that even the Europeans have been telling Obama to slow down.

“You know you’ve got a problem when the Europeans are telling you you’re spending and borrowing too much. That’s like the town drunk telling you you’re drinking too much,” he said as the crowd erupted in derisive laughter.

He drove the point home with a reference to a campaign button he said his daughter had been wearing recently: “Don’t anybody tell the president what comes after a trillion,” the button read.

Obama was on the ground in Colorado Springs for almost exactly four hours. After a short flight from Pueblo, Air Force One set down at Peterson Air Force Base a few minutes before 1 p.m., about a half hour ahead of schedule, and took off a few minutes before 4 p.m. In between, in addition to the rally at Colorado College, Obama squeezed in a visit to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where he visited with young athletes in training.

Obama lost El Paso County in 2008, but his nearly 40 percent of the vote marked a big improvement over the 32 percent won by the previous Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Chaffetz, a record-holding place kicker in his days at Brigham Young University, used a football analogy to rev up Romney supporters in what everyone agrees is a crucial swing state.

“We’re less than 90 days out. We’re moving down, we can score this touchdown — or kick a good field goal, you know, still going to win the game either way,” he said with a grin. “We can win the whole game right here, but it’s going to be the effort of you and your neighbors and your friends and your relatives right here in Colorado to make that happen. This is a pivotal state. Barack Obama won this state by 9 percent — we’re going to take it back this year.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com