BURLINGTON – Friday, President Barack Obama sent his condolences to family and friends of Melissa Jenkins, the St. Johnsbury Academy teacher who was killed last week.
Obama spoke to thousands of supporters at the University of Vermont. Earlier in the day, the president held a fundraiser luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in South Burlington. Supporters paid thousands to have a private lunch with Obama.
Prior to Obama’s UVM speech, Grace Potter entertained the crowd. However, the press was not allowed to cover the concert or any opening remarks.
At UVM, Obama acknowledged Gov. Peter Shumlin, Burlington Mayor Elect Miro Weinberger and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, as well as those who organized the event.
“I’m here,” said Obama, as the crowd exploded into cheers and applause. He jokingly responded with, “Maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead.”
Obama, who was very critical about the GOP candidates, told the crowd that he came to Vermont because he and the country need help. He told supporters they joined the campaign in 2008, not because of him, but because they shared a vision for America.
Obama talked about changes that have happened during his administration, including a law that says women deserve the same amount of pay as men, rescuing the auto industry that was on the verge of collapse, raising efficiency standards for automakers, healthcare reform and ending the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law.
Obama also said there are no more Americans fighting in Iraq. Instead, the country refocused the attention on those who attacked the Unites States on 9/11. Obama pointed out that over the past two years businesses have added nearly four million new jobs.
The changes have not been easy and they came with resistance from the other side, Obama said. He reminded the crowd that more needs to be done. He said there are still people looking for work, there are still families who can barely afford to pay the bills or make the mortgage payment and the country is still recovering from the worse economic storm in generations.
“It is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and that’s why Americans need to fight for it,” said Obama. America can go back to an economy that was built on out-sourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits or it can build an economy that’s built to last, he said.
Obama wants the next generation of manufacturing needs to take root in America. He wants the nation to be known for more than buying and consuming things and wants American schools to be the envy of the world.
Obama supports science, clean energy breakthroughs and sources like wind, solar, electric batteries and bio-fuels. He wants Americans to have access to the best roads, best airports, faster rail and fast Internet access. In addition, Obama wants a fair taxation system.
“I heard politicians talking about values in an election year,” Obama said. “Hard work, personal responsibilities, those are values. Looking out for one another, that’s a value. The idea we’re all in this together, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, that’s a value.”
Values are also thinking about the next generation and taking care of the planet, Obama said.
Obama said that in 2008 he told voters he isn’t a perfect man and will never be a perfect president. His promised back then he would always say what he believes, where he stood and would wake up every single day fighting as hard as he could for Americans.
“I have kept that promise,” said Obama. “We will finish what we started in 2008.”