Obama follows up debate with rally in Denver and Will.i.am events at CU and CSU

At his first public appearance since the presidential debate, Barack Obama made his view clear in a campaign event in Denver Thursday morning: that Mitt Romney’s performance at the debate was held up by statements that did not align with his campaign thus far in the 2012 election.

After a weak performance on the University of Denver campus Wednesday night – staying on the defense from Romney and appearing, for the first time, less personable than his opponent – Obama opened Thursday morning at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver by calling out inconsistencies in Romney’s campaign stances.

“When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney,” Obama said. “But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”

Obama listed other variances in his opponent’s stances on issues, including education and jobs outsourcing, before going for the heart of the problem that he faces after the debate loss – Romney’s accuracy and truthfulness Wednesday night.

“The man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been saying for the last year, and that’s because he knows full well that we don’t want what he’s been selling for the last year,” Obama said. “If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.”

Obama made light of Romney’s decision to cut funding to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which he reiterated for the debate’s estimated 67 million viewers Wednesday night.

“He said he’d eliminate funding for public television,” Obama said, met by robust boos. “Thank goodness someone is finally getting tough on Big Bird, because who knew that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit… Elmo, too.”

Amongst other attributions for the accomplishments he has made in office, Obama gave credit to the state of Colorado for changing student finance and loan methods in America.

“You’re the reason the people at CU Boulder, University of Denver and Colorado State can afford to go to school,” Obama said.

According to James Hart of the City and County of Denver Operations Division, 12,300 people attended Obama’s Thursday morning event despite frigid conditions.

Attendees of the rally in Lakewood included both Colorado senators Michael Bennet (D) and Mark Udall (D), as well as Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am.

Will.i.am played an opening set for the crowd, which included singing the Black Eyed Peas’ hit song, “I Gotta Feeling.” After the rally, the hip-hop star made his way to Boulder for a canvassing event where he encouraged over 185 people crammed onto the Half Fast Subs patio to vote and support Barack Obama.

“We are the reason that Barack Obama is president, the ones who got out and voted,” Will.i.am said to attendees of his surrogate event for Obama, who were asked to register to vote upon arrival.

The 37-year-old hip-hop star talked about surrounding himself with like-minded and driven people at a young age and finding prosperity in it, comparing his successful music career to Obama’s campaign.

“I remember when I wasn’t so fresh,” he said. “I remember what that felt like.”

Will.i.am suggested to attendees that the auto-industry bailout of 2009 and recently pulling American troops out of Iraq were achievements that Obama can boast.

“America was messed up, I mean for real,” he said. “I voted and I’m devoted; we need you guys to vote and be devoted.”

Savannah Pullin, a 20-year-old junior international affairs major, has been a volunteer at Organizing for America since August. She said that the Organizing for America office on the Hill has been planning the Will.i.am event for a week at the most.

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Anthony Merino, the general manager at Half Fast Subs, said that the sandwich shop has been working with Organizing for America for about two months since the office opened its doors on the Hill. He said that the Obama-affiliated event does not necessarily reflect the business owner’s or employees’ views.

“Though we do want to keep our individual political views out [of business], we do encourage people to go out and vote,” Merino said. “No matter if you’re left or right, blue or red, independent, we want you to get out there and vote.”

“If the Romney campaign or the Republican campaign were to come here and say, ‘Hey, can we do something here?’ we would welcome them with open arms just as well,” Merino said.

Merino said that free food helps get people into the event. Half Fast Subs provided Thai chicken, caprese and chicken-ranch sandwiches for attendees of the Will.i.am canvas event.

David London, a 21-year-old graduate student, said that he was interested in seeing Will.i.am because of the free sandwiches and the rapper’s “quirky and random” personality.

London was contacted by Organizing for America, Obama’s reelection campaign that he started volunteering for three weeks ahead of the Will.i.am event.

“They called me like a million times and texted me to make sure that I was going,” London said.

London said he is voting for Obama this November based on the candidates’ stances on issues like gay rights and government involvement in people’s lives.

“As far as any social and domestic issues go, more than I really support a lot of Obama’s policies, I very much disagree with a lot of the conservative policies,” London said.

Also in Colorado on Thursday, Mitt Romney spoke to the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in Denver. His sons Tag, Craig and Josh appeared on stage with him.

Romney attended a campaign event with Paul Ryan and country singer Trace Adkins at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville, Va., Thursday evening.

Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Alison Noon at Alison.noon@colorado.edu.

Alison Noon

A Sophomore at CU, Alison is majoring in Media Studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. At the CU Independent, Alison has the pleasure of working in the position of Social Media Outreach Editor, collaborating with the rest of the team to bring CUI news to students via Facebook and Twitter. She enjoys walking to the Chautauqua area for hikes, using public transportation, and tidying her house.

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