Subject: Travel Pool Report 5: Stump speech at Austin’s Paramount
At shortly before 1 pm local time, POTUS (in blue shirt, sleeves rolled as through much of this trip) strode onstage to a rousing, standing ovation of welcome. He immediately launched into how much he loves Austin — the people, music, BBQ — and what good memories he has (he did not mention, but it was in 2008 that just outside on Congress Avenue, 10s of 1000s of supporters filled the streets; that was then.)
–Said Austin was the last place he walked, “a real walk,” without anyone else, “when no one noticed me.” Then POTUS launched into what has become his stump speech: Telling how he’s read 10 letters a night since taking office, and describing some of them — including that of Kinsey Button, the UT Austin student whose letter about her and her parents’ struggles resulted in her being singled out as the president’s guest at a local cafe and his introducer here. And segueing to his themes of working for a government that tries to help people help themselves, and for additional economic progress.
–Said he likes to get out of Washington to “remember and connect with your stories so that you now what I’m trying to do every single day is based on that experience.”
“Thank you,” a woman yelled out, sparking a bit of applause.
–Turned to evidence of how the economy is improving — including for Kinsey’s family — citing stats mentioned in other recent speeches and remarks. “By almost every measure we are better off than we were when I took office.” (Applause)
–But, “We’ve still got a long way to go.” (“Yes,” several agreed.)
–Commiserated about theirs and his frustration about obstruction in Washington. “Democrats are not perfect….I know a lot of them,” he said, as he often does lately, but Democrats are not the ones standing in the way of measures helpful to the middle class.
“I’m not really that partisan a guy,” he said, reiterating that his fave president is the first Republican, Lincoln, and citing the achievements of others back to T.Roosevelt. But best he could say for Republicans is they haven’t shut down the government this year — “yet.”
–Reiterated that economy “doesn’t grow from the top down; it grows from the middle out.”
–Went on at length, with humor and sarcasm, to justify his executive actions. “I will always look for ways to get Republicans and Democrats together in this effort, but I can’t stand by.. ” Said Republicans, “some in the Texas delegation,” are mad enough about his actions that they’ve sued him — though Texan George W. Bush took more such actions. “Maybe it’s just me that they don’t like.” Some even want to impeach him,
POTUS at one point departed from prepared remarks (pooler is told) to paraphrase Mark Wahlberg’s character in the movie “Departed,” saying that he should say to Republicans, “I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.” Much laughter.
About a half-hour in, two young Latino men stood in seats near front and center and began shouting — pooler could not hear them, as POTUS spoke over them and finally said, “Sit down guys, I’m almost done.” The two persisted, the audience tried to shout them down and a couple police came down aisle. But POTUS asked that they not be escorted out, and promised to talk to them later, so they sat back down.
At 1:28 he’s finished, audience is on his feet and pool is getting out.