President Barack Obama blasted his critics and defended his own policies before a crowd of over 18,000 at the “Moving America Forward” rally in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. He said that the Republicans in Congress were focusing their time on attacking him rather than resolving issues for the middle class.
Sunday, Oct. 10, marked the first public visit to Philadelphia since the 2004 election. Obama stood alongside Vice President Joe Biden in an effort to mobilize the local Democratic base before the Nov. 2 midterm elections.
“Before I was inaugurated, and before Joe was inaugurated, we had lost 4 million jobs in the six months before that.” Obama said. “Before our economic policies were set into place, we had lost nearly 8 million jobs because of their policies.”
Obama advocated for the working class, hoping to relate to the people of Germantown, where nearly 25 percent live below the federal poverty level. He cited legislation regulating Wall Street and the healthcare reform bill as examples.
“You can’t stand by and let special interests drown out the voices of the American people. Philadelphia, that’s why I need you to work just as hard in this election as you did in the last election,” Obama said.
While he said corporate interests and lobbyists were trying to sidetrack his agenda, his criticism was mainly directed towards Capitol Hill.
“If I said the sky was blue, they said no. If I said there were fish in the sea, they said no. They figured if Obama fails, then we win,” Obama said.
Addressing concerns over being able to bring change, the President said that it would take time to change the policies enacted by the previous administration.
“You didn’t elect me to do what was easy, you elected me to do what was right,” Obama said. “You sent me there to solve problems and now, 20 months later, we no longer face the possibility of a second depression.”
Other notable political leaders at the rally included Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Bob Casey and Mayor Michael Nutter. The Democrats’ candidate for Senate, Joe Sestak, along with their candidate for governor, Dan Onorato, also spoke at the rally.
“I ask you all, more than anything, remember you just don’t vote once for change. You keep fighting for change,” Congressman Joe Sestak said.
With an approval rating of less than 50 percent, Obama has campaigned less for Democrats during this year’s midterm elections. Senior political science major John Solewin was surprised that Obama was defending himself.
“It was certainly more about rallying the troops than campaigning,” Solewin said. “The Democratic leaders in Pennsylvania and Obama did a good job of rallying their base in Philadelphia.”
Solewin believed Obama was trying to focus on the former President George W. Bush’s policies in order to take the attention off of his unpopular legislation. Bush’s approval final approval rating in a CBS News/New York Times poll was 22 percent before he left office.
Two more “Moving America Forward” rallies will be held in Ohio on Oct. 17 and Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 22.