Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 | 6:25 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 | 8:15 p.m.
President Barack Obama capped a hectic day in which he awoke to news of a fatal attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost with a campaign rally at Cashman Center.
According to the campaign, the speech and the president’s schedule were adjusted so he could address the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others Tuesday.
Obama first gave a statement on the attack in a Wednesday morning news conference at the White House before visiting the State Department.
Obama took the Cashman Center stage just after 6 p.m. and started his address to the crowd of approximately 8,000 with remarks on the attack. The president said the government would be “relentless” in its pursuit of those who attacked the consulate.
“I assure you we are going to bring their criminals to justice,” he said. “And we want to send the message around the world that no act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world.”
The president then segued into statements on the election, delivering a wide-ranging speech that highlighted contrasting positions between himself and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Standing in front of a banner reading “Forward,” the president took a cue from his scenery and peppered the word throughout his speech.
“We are not going back, we are going forward, we are going forward,” he said. “We are going forward Nevada, and that’s why I’m running for a second term.”
The president said while Republicans have focused new proposals for tax cuts on the wealthy, he is focused on the middle and lower classes.
“We don’t believe in an economy that flows from the top down, we believe in an economy that flows from the middle out and from the bottom up,” Obama said. “We believe in an economy that gives everyone a chance.”
The message focusing on the middle class, education and job growth resonated with Kenadie Richardson and Cheryl Lawrence. The two friends, who attended the event together, said they voted for Obama in 2008 and, if anything, are more motivated to do what they can to help the president win in November.
“My feelings are even stronger now than four years ago,” Lawrence said. “He came in and is trying to clean up the mess he was left. You can’t expect to him to have fixed everything in four years.”
Richardson, a business consultant, said she believed Obama would be better for the middle and lower classes.
“This Republican strategy of pull yourself up by the bootstraps is impossible, it’s not a strategy at all,” Richardson said. “We need everybody working together and contributing. Mitt Romney and the Republicans don’t care about the middle class. The middle class is disappearing, and the Republicans think if you help the poor it’s socialism. It’s ridiculous.”
The president touted programs to help underwater homeowners refinance their mortgages, and said he was willing to do more. Similar comments on housing made by the president earlier in the day elicited a rapid response from the Romney campaign.
“President Obama’s revisionist history on housing is laughable. Tonight, he told Americans that he pursued steps to aid the housing market, yet it was reported just this week that the president also said, ‘We will not roll out an aggressive housing plan,’” Romney spokesman Mason Harrison said in a statement, referencing a quote from the president in Bob Woodward’s new book, “The Price of Politics,” made during discussions on the stimulus package.
“As Nevadans have faced foreclosure, declining home values and seen their hard earned wealth wiped away, they will not buy the president’s spin and will hold him to account for his failed record,” Harrison said.
Referencing a plan from Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, to restructure Medicare in part by issuing vouchers to recipients, Obama said he would "never turn Medicare into a voucher.”
He also defended tighter regulations on banks, and attacked calls to privatize Social Security, saying he would not “hand the program over to Wall Street like a stack of poker chips.”
Several times during his 29-minute speech the president was serenaded with boisterous chants of “four more years” that echoed off the walls in the cavernous events hall. “I never said in 2008 that it was going to be easy. As President Clinton said, it’s going to take more than a few years to solve challenges that have been building up over decades,” Obama said, referencing former President Bill Clinton’s speech last week at the Democratic National Convention.
This was Obama's eighth visit to the Silver State this year. He was last in Las Vegas on Aug. 22, when he spoke about education during a rally at Canyon Springs High School.
After the Cashman Center rally, Obama returned to McCarran International Airport, reboarded Air Force One and took off for a Thursday campaign event in the Denver area. His total time in Las Vegas was about 3 1/2 hours.