Des Moines — President Barack Obama returned to Iowa Thursday for an official visit to TPI Composites in Newton, followed by a campaign rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
In Newton, an official White House visit, Obama addressed a crowd of approximately 500. According to Rep. Dan Kelley (D-Newton), the crowd was diverse.
"Being a local, I know a lot of people," Kelley told the Journal-Express. "I saw Republicans, I saw Democrats."
Kelley, and official statements from the White House, indicate that the President pushed for Congress to extend the wind energy tax credit. Further job losses in the wind energy industry are feared if the credit is not renewed.
"I'm calling on Congress to extend tax credits that are set to expire at the end of the year for clean-energy companies like TPI," Obama said. "Let's not wait. Let's do it now."
The extension of the tax credit is just one of five items on the President's "to do" list for Congress. The others include ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas (no examples of companies are listed in his official prepared remarks), making it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortagages, offering tax breaks to small businesses who hire more workers or pay higher wages and the creation of a Veterans Job Corps, to assist returning veterans in their job searches.
Obama kept much of his focus on the wind industry. His prepared remarks indicate the President's belief that every day the tax credit is not renewed, companies making plans to expand wind energy worry that the demand for such energy is slipping. That could create more job losses at companies like TPI. According to Reuters, the wind industry has already shed 10,000 jobs since 2009.
“It’s disappointing but fitting that as President Obama visits Newton to tout his failed energy policies, an Iowan energy company is announcing layoffs and plans to shift some operations overseas," State Rep. Renee Schulte said. "President Obama promised Iowans everything under the sun four years ago but today he’s here to point fingers at others instead of providing real solutions to help Iowans who continue to struggle with his broken promises and failed policies. It’s clear President Obama simply doesn’t understand the needs of Iowa families or small business owners.”
Kelley said the President's remarks were well-received by the crowd in Newton. He agrees with the President that it is important to continue to support "green" energy.
Campaign event in Des Moines
Thousands of people crammed into the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center on the Iowa State Fairgounds Thursday night for an Obama campaign event. Among them was Cinda Dee of Baxter, who recalled meeting Obama during his first campaign in 2007.
"I guess I thought it was my place to come down and show support," Dee said. "I think he's done very well."
The crowd watched Obama campaign videos, which touted the changes in America while he's been in the White House. At one point, the video blamed Republicans for problems, and the first three faces on the video were radio personalities Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Jennifer Harrington of Clarinda emceed the event. She said volunteers such as herself would ensure an Obama victory in November. Harrington shared with the crowd her joy in the passage of the "Affordable Care Act" and that insurance companies can no longer exclude people from coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
"Just being a woman used to be a pre-existing condition," Harrington believed.
Lucas Vinta, an Iraq War veteran, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. He asked the crowd to remember all who have served in America's Armed Forces this Memorial Weekend.
The theme of Obama's 2012 campaign is "Forward." This was used in speeches by Congressman Leonard Boswell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. While they pressed for America to move "forward" by reelecting Obama, they did not specify what that meant.
Kelley, who did not attend the campaign event, believes that "forward" means getting America out of its funk of high unemployment, $15 trillion debt and declining opportunities. "Forward" means restoring America's greatness, wealth and position in the world.
Boswell said he believes the President's actions account for one of the federal government's purposes, stated in the Constitution, which is to "promote the general welfare."
"We're going to take this country back to where we can all get the American dream," Boswell said.
Vilsack's speech focused on Iowa and rural America. The amount of oil America is importing today, under Obama, has decreased. Of the oil used in the country today, only 45 percent is imported from other countries. Vilsack touted the progress made in renewable fuels and the fact that the USDA has assisted 50,000 businesses in the past few years.
"Iowans, we need to get to work," Vilsack said. "We need to fight back to move forward."
Obama came into the room to a great deal of applause. After one attendee shouted, "I love you," Obama called back, "I love you back."
He opened his speech by rehashing the difficulties he faced when he was running for office and when elected.
"A whole lot of people were struggling," Obama said. Obama went on to discuss legislation passed while he's been President and said he does not want to relent on his agenda.
"We have come too far to abandon the change we fought for," Obama said.
From there, the President praised his likely opponent, Mitt Romney, as a person. He said Romney is a good family man with good business experience. Obama quickly shifted from that to indicate that while Romney is touting his private sector achievements, he's not discussing his public service.
"But he doesn't discuss what he did in Massachusetts," Obama said. Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts. While serving as governor, he signed legislation to create a statewide health care program, which the Obama Administration has touted as a model for its nationwide health care reform.
Obama criticized Romney and his former investment firm, Bain Capital. In his opinion, when capitalistic companies see profits as a top priority, it can cost jobs. The bailouts of finance companies by the federal government were necessary, because Bain and firms like it often receive investments from retirement funds. This can also put taxpayers in the position of greater liabilities.
"That's not the job of a President," Obama said. "There may be value in that kind of experience, but it's not in the White House. Your job is to look out for the investor and the worker."
"We believe in the profit motive...but we also believe everybody should have opportunities," Obama said. "We're not going back. We're moving this country forward."
Obama went on to discuss investments in projects such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam and the moon landing, where public money created opportunities for private sector growth. The private space travel business today has the only American shuttles, as Obama has ended NASA's shuttle program.
Throughout his speech, Obama stressed the need for keeping teachers and first responders on the payroll. The accomplishments he reviewed from his term as President include ending the war in Iraq, setting an end date for the war in Afghanistan, ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden, wall street reform and more.
At one point, Obama told the crowd that federal spending over the past three years has grown at the slowest pace in decades. This is difficult to confirm, as the Senate has not passed a budget in years and the federal government funding has been done through continuing resolutions. Automatic spending increases are built into the federal government each year.
The national debt has grown by $5 trillion during Obama's presidency. Obama said this is due, in part, to necessary bailouts and higher unemployment. Because American unemployment has been high, the effect has been twice as hard. More people are dependent upon government aid, and fewer people with jobs means less income tax revenue flowing into the government. All of this has contributed to the growth of the debt.
Though the campaign slogan has changed, Obama's final push to his supporters reassured them that "hope" and "change" still apply to him.
"It's still about hope. It's still about change," Obama said. "We will finish what we started."
As attendees proceeded to their vehicles, following the event, several said they enjoyed the speech and intend to support Obama.
The Obama campaign is also encouraging Iowans to vote early. They believe that the more votes and ballots they have submitted before Election Day, the better, as they can spend Election Day getting everyone else to the polls.