“I don’t care how many ways you try to explain it — corporations aren’t people. People are people,” Obama told the crowd about halfway through his 35-minute remarks.
He also tied Romney to congressional Republicans. As he has in previous campaign-trail events, Obama argued that the congressional GOP agenda includes tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to Medicare and education, and would “give banks and insurance companies even more power to do as they please.”
“And now, after a long and spirited primary, Republicans in Congress have found a nominee for president who has promised to rubberstamp this agenda if he gets the chance,” he said.
And as the Romney campaign has argued that 2012 will be a referendum on the president’s handling of the country’s still-struggling economy during his three years in office, Obama on Saturday defended his administration at length, contending that the economy was a “house of cards” even before he took office.
“It will take sustained, persistent effort — yours and mine — for America to fully recover,” he told the crowd.
U.S Sen. Sherrod Brown, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, and former senator and astronaut John Glenn appeared with the president in Ohio. Former Virginia governor Timothy M. Kaine and VCU men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart will attend the president’s rally in Richmond.
By some measures, the Ohio event fell short of expectations: According to the local fire department, Obama spoke to a crowd of about 14,000, well short of the arena’s 18,300-person capacity. Campaign officials said before the event that they had been expecting an “overflow” crowd.
But by others, it lived up to them. Both Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, who spoke directly before the president, received a roaring reception from the crowd. At several points during the event, the crowd interrupted the Obamas and burst into cheers of “Four more years!”
In brief remarks before the president took the stage, Michelle Obama focused on her husband’s biography in a subtle contrast with that of Romney, whom the Obama campaign has frequently sought to portray as wealthy and out of touch.
“Believe me, Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. . . . He knows what it means when someone doesn’t have the chance to fulfill their potential,” she said.
On her dress was a teal-blue flower pin — the same pin that she wore as she delivered her 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.