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David Gaul
Shelby County Democratic Party Co-Chair

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David Gaul
Donna Clothier
Kathleen Cue


When I heard the roar of the jet engines powering Air Force One, I knew I wasn't in Shelby County anymore.  I looked up into the crystal clear sky of Sioux City and saw the blue-nosed jumbo jet bearing the President descending into Sioux City.  Quick as I could, I snapped a picture which you can see here, along with a number of other pictures of the President Obama's visit to Sioux City on Saturday.

For myself, this was a first.  I have never seen a sitting President up close and personal before--or far away and impersonal for the matter.  I highly recommend the experience.  The line to get in stretched far down the hill by the time I arrived on the scene.  Volunteers were out in force, gathering tickets, registering voters and filling absentee ballot request forms.  The OFA folks in Sioux City and the Woodbury County Democratic Party deserve tremendous credit for doing a great job pulling this event together.

By the time I reached the metal detector tent, the line behind me stretched well into the distance.  Ultimately, thousands jammed into a shaded area of lawn between two buildings on the campus of Morningside College to see the President.  There was a bit of a wait, but nobody seemed to care.  I managed to get myself pretty close to the stage so that I had a straight-on view of the podium.  Meanwhile, the press had already set up on two stages, one flanking the podium and the other directly in front of the podium and behind me.  Somewhere there's probably video of the back of my head.

After about about eighty minutes of waiting and visiting with my neighbors, a roar of the crowd indicated the wait was nearly over.  Soon a parade of speakers took to the stage--an OFA organizer, the mayor of Sioux City, a local minister who read an invocation, another who led us in the pledge of allegiance and finally a Sioux City OFA volunteer who sang the National Anthem.  I didn't catch her name, but she did a great rendition.

Secretary of Agriculture and former Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, then came out and warmed up the crowd--something not needed in the literal sense since the temperature was over 90 at that point.  The former governor has lost none of his political skills, evident as he delivered a full-throated review of the President's inestimable record and a denunciation of the policies proposed by Republicans--and updates on college football scores.

President Obama took to the stage to sound of U2's Beautiful Day.   A long and loud ovation greeted him, one filled with enthusiasm and excitement and sustained calls for "Four more years!"  Immediately evident was the easy manner the President has with the public, the ability to instantly connect to the people he's speaking to.  

After talking a little football and vowing not to come between any Hawkeye, Cyclone or Husker fans, the President got down to business, delivering a withering rebuke of the policies and proposals promoted last week in Tampa by Mitt Romney and the Republicans, saying at one point that the Republican convention was best suited for the era of "black and white television."

The President spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of renewable energy to the state of Iowa, pointing out that Governor Branstad and Senator Grassley disagree strongly with Mitt Romney's disdain for renewable energy.  The President painted Romney as a foil for the fossil fuel industry, emphasizing Romney's plan to end wind energy tax credits while at the same time easing regulations on the fossil fuel industry and keeping in place their $4 billion worth of subsidies.  The President knows that this is a winning issue in Iowa.  He knows that this issue alone could well torpedo Romney's hope for winning Iowa.

The President also didn't shy away from the health care issue.  The crowd roared approval as he ticked off all the things that the Affordable Health Care Act has done so far.  The best applause line of the day came when the President said, "The Republicans like to call the health care bill Obamacare."  He paused, a slight twinkle in his eye.  "Obamacare?" he said, bemused.  "I like that!  That's a better name than the name Republicans have for their health care plan.  Their health care plan is called Don'tcare!"   

The President promised a big speech Thursday night in Charlotte when he will lay out his plans for taking the country "forward." I have posted the closing moments of his speech in the Media Center.  The media and Romney are trying to act like the President's supporters aren't as enthusiastic as they were four years ago.  That's not how I saw it in Sioux City.  I saw a crowd "fired up and ready to go" like none I've ever seen before.  Young and old alike, it didn't matter.  If Romney and his folks truly believe this, they're in for a shock. 

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