GREEN BAY, Wis. - President Obama is officially back on the campaign trail in full swing, delivering his closing argument at a chilly tarmac rally here – steps from Air Force One – after an unprecedented and unanticipated two-day pause in the home stretch thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
Obama invoked the superstorm, and the lessons he has taken from it, to set the tone for his three-state, 16-hour swing with five days of campaigning to Election Day.
“All the petty differences seem to melt away. There are no Republicans or Democrats during a storm,” he said.
Referring to his visit to the disaster zone in New Jersey Wednesday, Obama said he saw “a spirit that says in the end we’re all in this together. That we rise and fall as one nation and one people.”
Pivoting to his campaign, Obama said the same outlook has guided his presidency and the “change” he has helped bring about, hitting GOP challenger Mitt Romney for running what he called a fundamentally different definition of change.
“He’s saying he’s the candidate of change. Well, let me tell you Wisconsin, we know what change looks like. And what he’s offering isn’t change,” he said.
Obama went into a riff on how what Romney proposes on taxes, regulation and social policy is a throwback to the past, then added, “turning Medicare into a voucher is change, but we don’t want that change.”
“I know what change looks like because I fought for it,” he said. “And after all we’ve been through together, we sure as heck can’t give up now…
“We don’t need a big-government agenda or a small-government agenda. We need a middle-class agenda. We don’t need a partisan agenda,” he said. “We need a vision that says we don’t just look out for ourselves, we look out for one another and future generations. That’s the change we believe in, that’s what it’s all about. Their bet is on cynicism. Wisconsin, my bet is on you.”
Also notable: Obama plugged former President Bill Clinton, who has been barnstorming the country on his behalf, suggesting they share the same economic philosophy: “For eight years, we had a president who shared these beliefs. His name was Bill Clinton. He asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. Critics at the time said killed jobs, etc. Math back then was just as bad as it is today.”