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Monday, November 5, 2012

 11:21 AM 

Obama tells Madison crowd progress made, but fight goes on

President Obama continued to make his case Monday that the country has made progress during his first term, but there is more to do and he needs a second term to continue that fight.

Speaking to thousands gathered near the state Capitol in downtown Madison, Obama noted Osama bin Laden is dead, the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is coming to a close and al-Qaeda is on the run.

He also highlighted economic progress made during his term, such as the survival of the auto industry and the creation of over 5 million new jobs after a steep drop in employment immediately following his election.

However, he said that another four years was needed to finish what the country had started.

"We've made progress these last four years, but the reason we're all gathered here in addition to listening to Bruce is because we know we've got more work to do. As long as there is a single American who wants a job but can't find one, our work is not yet done."

Obama was to make stops in three swing states today, hitting Ohio and Iowa in addition to Wisconsin, where he was joined by Bruce Springsteen.

The speech echoed similar themes that Obama struck in a Milwaukee speech on Saturday, the second of his three stops in Wisconsin over the final six days of the election. Like Saturday, Obama knocked Mitt Romney’s plans as the “same old bad ideas” that Republicans have tried in the past, but did not work.

"Giving more power back to the biggest banks, that's not change," Obama said. "Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy is not change. Refusing to answer questions about your policies until after the election, that's definitely now change. That's the oldest trick in the book."

Obama recounted the partisan fights of his first term and told the crowd Republicans were counting on them to give up and walk away, leaving them right where they are “pulling the strings, pulling the levers.”

“In other words, their bet is on cynicism. But, Wisconsin, my bet is on you,” Obama said.

 Madison Police estimated 20,000 people listened to Obama’s speech in front of the City-County Building downtown. The president spoke toward another municipal building across the street, but the crowd stretched up several blocks to his left toward the Capitol.

 Republicans jumped on the crowd estimate to argue enthusiasm was waning for the president in the state’s liberal hotbed. Eight years ago, Springsteen rallied with Dem presidential nominee John Kerry in the run up to the election and drew an estimated crowd of 80,000.

“With no record to run on and no vision for the future, President Obama is resorting to false, discredited attacks and a cynical closing message urging voters to choose ‘revenge,’" said Romney spokesman Ben Sparks. "Mitt Romney wants to bring people together and he wants Americans to vote for love of country. He will deliver real change for a real recovery, creating 12 million new jobs with rising take-home pay and a better future for all Americans.”

 Today, Springsteen introduced the president, first joking with the crowd he agreed to campaign with Obama to snag a ride on Air Force One. He also recounted for the crowd growing up in a family that struggled to make ends meet and his father’s work on an assembly line.

 He reminded the crowd that he campaigned with Obama four years ago and was back with him today because he had done things he promised he would like ending the war in Iraq and bringing the war in Afghanistan to a close.

"President Obama ran last time as a man of hope and change,” he said. “You hear a lot of talk about how things are different now. Things aren’t any different now. It’s just real. It’s crunch time now.”

 Springsteen then urged the crowd to keep that hope alive and combat the apathy and cynicism out there before launching into “Land of Hope and Dreams.”

 Before he played, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, called his 24 years in office the greatest thing he's done in his life, as the crowd chanted thank you. He urged voters to support fellow Dem Tammy Baldwin for his seat, saying she was "incorruptible."

 Baldwin, D-Madison, told crowds that she would be a senator in the progressive mold of those like Bob La Follette and that she would stand up to the country's most powerful special interests if elected. 

She also said that President Obama shared Wisconsin values of fairness and hard work.

"We believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead," Baldwin said. "We believe that you're at your best when you have a fair shot and that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street, plays by the same rules."

 State Rep. Mark Pocan, a Madison Dem seeking Baldwin’s congressional seat, told the crowd that this election is a stark choice between opposite paths for the nation.

While Pocan acknowledge the "purple" nature of a divided state, he urged supporters to turn the state into a "Beautiful, vibrant, iridescent shade of indigo blue." 

-- By Jason Smathers

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