North Country Congressman Bill Owens and Vermont Congressman...
President Barack Obama visited Burlington, Vermont last Friday for a fundraiser and campaign event. The state hasn’t been visited by a sitting president since Clinton’s trip in 1995. Obama arrived on Air Force One around 11:30 a.m. He met with Vermont politicians, lunched with high paying campaign donors, then spoke to a to crowd of supporters at the University of Vermont.
Over 4500 people crammed into UVM’s athletic center to hear President Barack Obama speak.
"Hello Vermont!" the president said.
The crowd promptly burst into cheers.
Even though Obama’s address was a stump speech designed for the campaign trail, the crowd loved it. It was standing room only, and the room was boiling from all the excitement and body heat. President Obama removed his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and began speaking in earnest. He summed up the successes of his presidency, then asked for the audience’s help during his upcoming campaign. He said there’s a lot at stake in the 2012 presidential election.
"This is not your run of the mill political debate, this is the defining issue of our time, a make-or-break moment for the middle class. That’s what we gotta fight for," he said to great applause.
The president laid out his vision for the country over the next four years: an America focused on alternative energy with revitalized manufacturing, an improved school system, stronger sciences, and health care for all. Those steps, he said, will bolster the American economy and are in keeping with a core set of the nation’s values.
"Looking out for one another, that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together, I am my brother’s keeper I am my sister’s keeper, that’s a value."
For audience member Melissa Dever, those remarks hit close to home.
"I thought it was a tremendous grounding for the campaign, just the reestablishment of our values, they resonate very well with Vermont," she said.
Of course, not everyone was delighted with Obama’s visit. According to the Burlington Free Press, a crowd comprised primarily of Occupy Burlington members gathered on Williston Road to protest various Obama administration policies.
But for those inside the UVM athletic center, the day was a memorable one, especially for 6-year-old Astrid Young.
"What did you think of the president?" I asked her.
"I liked it a lot," she replied.
"What was your favorite thing he said?" I asked.
She paused for a moment, then answered. "That he stood up for America."
And that, the president said, is precisely what he intends to do.
He concluded his speech with fiery rhetoric and tumultous applause:
"Fight with me, and press on with me, and we’ll remind the rest of the world what America is all about."