Audience members, mostly high school students, booed, but Obama quieted them, saying, “It’s okay.”
Then he directly addressed the protesters.
“For a lot of the folks who have been in New York and all across the country in the Occupy movement, there is a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick to it that, you can make it, feels like that’s slipping away,” Obama said. “And that’s not the way things are supposed to be. Not here. Not in America.”
Obama has come under fire from some conservatives for appearing to embrace the movement, which critics charge is made up of a ragtag group of leftists who hate capitalism. Some Occupy demonstrators have expressed frustration at times with the Obama administration’s close ties to Wall Street banks.
The protesters are not just showing up at Obama’s events, but have appeared at GOP campaign events too, as Nia-Malika Henderson reports:
The big question surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement has been whether it has staying power as a sort of counterbalance to the tea party movement going into the 2012 elections.
There also are logistical questions surrounding the protests: Where will the protesters go once winter hits, and once the OWS tent cities that have cropped up, are possibly busted up by local officials, as happened in New York.
Perhaps they will move to occupying events of presidential candidates? So far, Michele Bachmann has been on the wrong end of an OWS protest, and Mitt Romney, in South Carolina, encountered an OWS protester in Columbia who was quickly escorted out of the event.
Recently, Ron Paul, who has been sympathetic to protesters, had an event at Keene State College in New Hampshire disrupted. Paul played it cool, seemed amused, and said,
“Do you feel better?” once the shouting ended and said that he was on the side of the 99%.
Further down the East Coast, demonstrators with the offshoot Occupy the Highway group arrived in the District after a two-week trip on foot from Zuccotti Park. Elizabeth Flock and Katie Rogers provided live updates:
With 230 miles under their belts, the group of about 50 marchers were aiming to arrive the day before a congressional “supercommittee” was supposed to vote on a bipartisan debt compromise. Unfortunately, the supercommittee officially announced its failure to reach compromise a day before protesters arrived.
The Post’s Tim Craig is waiting for the marchers to arrive at the Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood Metro station, where they’ll continue their march to give a news conference at Occupy DC’s McPherson Square headquarters. A news release from the group indicates that it will temporarily occupy an area near the reflecting pool on the National Mall.
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