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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Obama: Don’t make me look bad,

By ABBY PHILLIP | 10/7/10 7:21 PM EDT

BOWIE, Md. - President Barack Obama’s message to thousands of African Americans who came to see the man they voted for two years ago was simple: Get out and vote for the Democratic ticket in next month’s mid-term elections, even though he’s not on the ballot.

“Don’t make me look bad, now,” he quipped.

Appearing with most of the Maryland Democratic party’s state leadership – Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Reps. Elijah Cummings and Donna Edwards, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer – Obama told the crowd that they are now “shareholders” of his historic 2008 election. But he said they must protect that investment by voting in the mid-term elections and helping bridge the so-called “enthusiasm gap” Democrats have with Republicans.
“The campaign by itself didn’t deliver the change that we need. It just gave us the chance to make the change happen,” Obama said. “We’ve got a lot at stake right now. On Nov. 2nd, I’m going to need you just as fired up as you were in 2008.”
“I hope you’re ready to fight,” he said.
Obama appeared at the rally at Bowie State University on behalf of O’Malley, who is locked in a tough rematch of his 2006 campaign against former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Republican. The audience– college-age African Americans and middle-class black voters – was the type that O’Malley and other Democrats will need to get energized about Election Day.
Absent, however, was embattled Eastern Shore Rep. Frank Kratovil who is fighting for his political life against Republican candidate Andy Harris in Maryland’s First District. Several Democrats in tough races across the country have distanced themselves from the president, worried that his presence – and his 46 percent approval rating – would drag down their campaigns.
Both Mikulski and O’Malley will need to count on Obama’s appeal in one of the most populous, solidly Democratic localities in the state - Prince George’s County – to shore up Democratic support this November. Voters in the predominantly middle-class African American county overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008, and the president’s coattails with black voters swept O’Malley into office, delivering upwards of a 120,000-vote margin for against Ehrlich.
But with enthusiasm at an all-time low for Democrats – particularly African Americans, who surged to the polls to vote for the first black presidential contender – Obama’s appeal to his rock-solid base may increase O’Malley’s momentum in the final weeks of the campaign.
The rally at Bowie State was a love-fest reminiscent of Obama’s rock-star days during the presidential campaign. The president was cheered wildly when he took the podium, one audience member shouted “We love you!” and the president interrupted his remarks when he noticed two people had fainted.
Those in attendance eagerly joined in chanting the campaign slogan, “Yes, we can!” and the mantra that Obama hopes will catch in the 2010 midterm contests: “Forward, not backward.”
They booed as Obama once again ripped into the Republicans’ “Pledge to America,” calling the GOP’s governing manifesto “the same snake oil they’ve been peddling for years.”

“They want to borrow $700 billion dollars and then they want to give out taxes worth an average of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires,” Obama said. “And when you ask them, ‘Where are you going to get this $700 billion?’ they don’t have answers. They don’t know.”
“Make no mistake. This election is a choice. And that choice could not be clearer,” Obama said. “This is not as if candidates in the other party were offering new ideas. It’s not as if they’ve changed their agenda since the last time they ran Washington or the last time they ran Annapolis.”
Republicans were in charge when the economy teetered on the brink of collapse, and “I don't want to go through that mess again,” Obama said of the Republicans’ plans if they win control of Congress. “That's the philosophy the other side wants to bring to Washington and wants to bring to Annapolis if they win in November. That's the philosophy that Martin’s opponent espouses.”
Maryland was one ten winners of the Department of Education’s Race to the Top contest, qualifying for $250 million in education funding. Obama touted his and O’Malley’s commitment to education and said that the Republican Party and Ehrlich sough to roll back funding for post-secondary education.
“When you look at the ‘Pledge to America,’ it turns out they do have an idea about how to pay for a small portion of it. They want to cut education by 20 percent,” Obama said to a chorus of boos from the audience. “That's a cut that would reduce financial aid for 8 million college students, including a whole bunch of college students right here at [Bowie State University].”
A reprisal of a favorite stump metaphor that Republicans are driving the national car into a ditch became an animated call and response with the enthusiastic crowd of about 5,000.
“So for the last 20 months, me and Martin and Steny and Barbara and all these folks, we have gotten down into the ditch, put on our boots. We’re down there. It’s hot. We were sweating. Bugs everywhere,” Obama said.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry!” an audience member called out.
“Have you ever noticed, when you get in your car if you want to go forward, what do you do?” Obama asked. “You got to put it in ‘D.’ If you want to go backwards, what do you do? You put it in ‘R.’”
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