Obama hits stride before 35,000 in Ohio


COLUMBUS: US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle made their first joint campaign appearances in two years, sending a jolt of energy through 35,000 supporters two weeks before mid-term elections.
Ahead of a week of campaigning, Obama showed he can still fire up a vast crowd of young backers, despite his diminished political brand and Democratic fears of a drubbing by Republicans in congressional polls on November 2.
It was a show of force and energy in a bellwether state which helped put Obama in the White House, but which has been badly hit by the recession and high unemployment, leaving Democrats fearing a high political price.
“In a little more than two weeks you can set the direction of this state and this country,” Obama told the crowd Sunday at Ohio State University, seeking to close an apparent enthusiasm gap with Republicans two weeks from polling day. “Just like you did in 2008, you can defy the conventional wisdom,” Obama said, seeking to drive up turnout among young Democratic voters even though he is not on the ballot, in a rally reminiscent of his historic presidential campaign.
“Everybody said, ‘No you can’t’ and in 2008 you showed them ‘Yes we can’,” he said. “If you are still as fired up and ready to go as you were two years ago… I know we can keep bringing about the change,” Michelle Obama said. The president admitted that his party faced a “difficult election.”
“It is hard because we have been through an incredibly difficult time as a nation,” he said, and slammed Republicans for not helping him lift the country on to better times. “We can’t return to a philosophy that nearly destroyed our economy,” he said, charging that his foes back policies which triggered the crisis in the first place.
“This election… is a contest between our deepest hopes and our deepest fears. The other side is playing on fear. That’s what they do.” Republicans however charge that Obama’s economic policies have been a failure and that the president has failed to make good on the hope that he promised, and is guilty of a liberal, big-government takeover of the economy.
Ohio State University police estimated the crowd at 35,000 — the biggest political throng Obama has drawn since his inauguration in January 2009.The president will launch a four-day campaign swing starting Wednesday to prop up vulnerable candidates, pour fresh cash into party coffers, and renew a bond with voters who helped put him in office and will likely be called upon again in his re-election bid in 2012.