President Barack Obama spoke to a standing crowd on Tuesday to raise money for his re-election campaign. Several Oregon political figures including Gov. John Kitzhaber were in the audience at Portland’s Convention Center.
Much of the president’s speech was focused on the economy. Obama said that he’s aided the country toward economic recovery over the past four years, pointing to job creation and small business incentives that he’s helped foster.
He drew sharp differences between his economic policies and those of the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who Obama says supports “top-down” economics and measures that allow jobs to go overseas.
“Let’s give tax breaks to companies that are investing in Oregon, right here in the United States of America,” said the president.
The president drew big rounds of applause when he talked about the Affordable Care Act and the importance of public education. He said he wants to help schools hire and retain the best teachers, especially in math and science. He also said he wants to reduce the cost of college.
“Higher education is an economic necessity,” he told the crowd.
Groups of protesters greeted Obama outside the Convention Center chanting and holding signs for a number of different causes. Some protested drone strikes, others promoted pot legalization. Some are opposed to money being spent on the military.
Marion Ward, a member of Veterans for Peace, told OPB’s Kristian Foden-Vencil why she was protesting.
“I am very concerned about all the money that’s being spent on the military and wars of aggression,” she said.
Faith Gabrielson, a physical therapist, protested with Americans for Prosperity.
“I am here today to protest basically the environmental movement and Obama trying to take away the coal jobs,” she said.
The president’s plane touched down about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in North Portland at the base for the 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard.
Among a few dozen supporters awaiting Obama was his brother-in-law, Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson, who got a presidential hug.
The president also made a stop at The Gateway Breakfast House in Northeast Portland, where he greeted diners and sat at a table with three Oregon veterans.
Obama is scheduled to depart for Seattle by the evening.
Obama has enjoyed significant support in liberal Portland and drawn crowds of thousands to public events in recent years. He’s considered a favorite to win Oregon’s seven electoral votes in November.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republic presidential nominee, visited Portland in June. Romney was in Portland for a luncheon at the downtown Governor Hotel. The event was not open to the public nor the media. Attendance cost a minimum of $2,500.