BOULDER, Colo. – Voters in Colorado tonight got a glimpse of the Barack Obama of 2008, with his soaring, impassioned and relentless rhetoric that electrified a crowd in a way only rarely seen during the 2012 campaign.
Sharpening his closing argument for a second term, Obama delivered a forceful defense of his mantra of “change” in an evening rally at the University of Colorado, insisting that the economic and social transformation for which Americans are yearning will only come if voters stick by his side.
“You may not agree with every decision that I’ve made, you may be frustrated at the rate of change,” he told the diverse crowd of 10,000 inside a campus basketball arena. But, “I know what real change looks like, because I fought for it,” he added. “I’ve got the scars to prove it. I’ve got the gray hair to show for it.”
With five days to go before Election Day, Obama is accusing his opponent, Republican nominee Mitt Romney, of acting like a “salesman,” trying to masquerade as an agent of change, while in reality representing little difference in substance or policy from his Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush. Deploying his campaign slogan, Obama claims he would move the country “forward,” while Romney’s proposals would take it “backward.”
The president is taking his late-election case on a battleground state tour that will land him in Chicago on Tuesday. Earlier Thursday he stumped in Green Bay, Wis., and Las Vegas, Nev. On Friday he will spend the entire day at events in Ohio.
“I’m not going to allow this nation to be plunged into another battle over health care,” Obama insisted tonight. “I’m not going to allow politicians in Washington to make health care choices for women that they can make for themselves…” The crowd roared.
“We need an agenda that recognizes that we don’t just look out for ourselves, we look out for one another,” he said.
Invoking the ideals that his aides say shaped his first run for political office in Illinois, Obama said he is running to be a “champion” for the people who “need a champion in Washington.”
“I ran because the voices of the American people, your voices, had been shut out of American politics for way too long,” Obama said.
He acknowledged there have been some “big fights” over the past four years to achieve his goal, but said “I’m not ready to give up on that fight.”
“We’ve come too far to grow faint-hearted! Now’s the time to keep pushing forward!” Obama exhorted the crowd which was on its feet with cheers and applause.
In an interview with a Denver TV reporter Friday, President Obama twice refused to answer questions as to whether the Americans under siege in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, were denied requests for help, saying he’s waiting for the results of investigations before making any conclusions about what went wrong.
After being asked about possible denials of requests for aid, and whether it’s fair to tell Americans that what happened is under investigation and won’t be released until after the election, the president said, “the election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened. These are folks who served under me who I had sent to some very dangerous places. Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.”
President Obama told KUSA-TV’s Kyle Clarke large that “we want to make sure we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as to the American people, we’re going to bring those folks to justice. So, we’re going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again but we’re also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.”
Clark pressed again.
“Were they denied requests for help during the attack?” he asked.
“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened,” the president again said. “I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”
In response, CIA spokesperson Jennifer Youngblood said, “We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi. Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades.”