President Obama tried to steal a piece of the Iowa spotlight tonight with a nostalgia-filled live address to his Democratic supporters over the internet, at times hampered by static and sporadic audio interruptions that made him difficult to understand.
But the technical glitches from Obama’s exclusive web tool couldn’t mask his rallying cry to the people who first helped propel him to the presidency four years ago.
“Because of you and the work you did four years ago,” Obama said, addressing Iowans, the accomplishments of his first term — from ending the Iraq War to imposing higher fuel efficiency standards and repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” — were possible.
Still, he warned, “there are a lot of forces that want to push back against it and want to undo some of those changes. And we’re battling millions of dollars of negative advertising and lobbyists from special interests who don’t want to see the change that you worked so hard for fully take root.”
“That’s why this time around is in some ways more important than the first time around,” he said.
The Obama campaign has launched an aggressive effort to keep Iowa blue in November, opening eight offices across the state, holding more than 1,000 organizing events and engaging hundreds of thousands of potential voters in person and over the phone. Democrats were also holding caucuses across the state tonight in a dry run for next fall.
Obama, who participated in the video teleconference from inside a Washington, D.C., Hilton hotel, took two questions from supporters who each appealed for new inspiration from the man who energized them four years ago.
“I’m wondering now in 2012 if you still believe in hope and change for America?” asked a woman from Coralville.
“First of all, I want to make sure you can hear my answer. How’s the sound coming through now?” Obama said, waiting for the audio connection to resolve.
“Well, in some ways I’m actually more optimistic now than I was when I first ran because we’ve already seen change take place,” he said after a pause. “And part of what 2012 is about is both reminding the American people of how far we’ve traveled and the concrete effects some of our work has had.”
Later, in response to a question from a woman in Cedar Rapids, Obama signaled he believes his army of volunteers will be the key to winning that messaging fight during the campaign.
“Frankly, not that many people watch cable TV. What they do is, they listen to their friends, neighbors and co-workers,” Obama said. “Nobody is a better message for the kind of change we’re talking about than you.”
“I will put my money on you. I find you a lot more persuasive than anybody on TV and that’s why I know we’re going to win.”