AUSTIN (THE TEXAS TRIBUNE) – After slamming Bush-era tax cuts and calling Mitt Romney a business “outsourcer,” President Obama said Tuesday in Austin that he would remind the world why America is the best country in the world if he was sent back to the White House.
Obama’s remarks came during a 35-minute speech to about 1,100 supporters at the Austin Music Hall, where he also jabbed at Republicans for their opposition to expanding health care and their efforts to gut funding for family planning.
“We’re not ending funding for Planned Parenthood,” Obama said to deafening cheers. “I think women should have control over their own health care decisions.”
Obama touted his administration’s accomplishments, like passing federal health care reform and killing terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. Though Obama acknowledged there was more to do and said he was not the “perfect” president, he painted an ominous picture of America if the White House was once again home to a Republican president.
“Their basic theory is that if you take Bush tax cuts, on top of that you add a layer of $5 trillion more tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, and you eliminate regulations on polluters and regulations we put in place to prevent another meltdown on Wall Street … and let folks at the very top maximize their profits that we will all do better,” he said.
Obama also targeted Romney over his alleged outsourcing while the head of Bain Capital, saying voters are right to question the former Massachusetts governor’s private-sector record.
“Gov. Romney’s main calling card for running for office is his business experience, so understandably the American people have been asking, ‘Well, let’s find out what he’s been doing,’” he said. “And if your main experience is investing in companies that are called ‘pioneers of outsourcing,’ then that indicates that we have different visions.”
Obama sought to distinguish himself from Romney on immigration, though he didn’t mention his recent order to grant some immigrants relief from deportation proceedings.
“Mr. Romney thinks that the Arizona law should be a model for the nation. I think we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” he said before touting his support for the DREAM Act, drawing cheers that drowned out his following remarks.
Obama’s election-year decision to halt deportation proceedings drew a crowd of supporters who protested the president last year during his visit to Austin. They said on Tuesday, however, that they still demand more.
“After two years, he finally gave us deferred action, and so we’re want to thank him,” said Julieta Garibay, an immigrant who would benefit from the DREAM Act. “Some students came out to say, ‘Thank you, President Obama,’ but we still need immigration reform and the DREAM Act.’ It’s a good step, but it’s not the whole enchilada. We want everything.”
The event was open to supporters willing to pay $250 for general admission seating or $1,000 for preferred seating, according to the campaign website.
Earlier in the day, Obama spoke at a fundraising luncheon in San Antonio. His campaign estimated that it would bring in $3.5 million from the Texas stops, surpassing the $2 million Obama collected last May in visits to El Paso and Austin.
The money should keep him at parity with Romney’s fundraising levels in Texas, if not surpass them. Before Tuesday, the president managed to haul in $7,468,774 from Texas donors, just shy of Romney’s $7,468,894, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The Romney campaign did not appear too concerned, however, saying that it got a later start.
“The Romney vs. Obama campaign and fundraising has only been occurring for a couple months, so I’m not sure cumulative numbers are really telling at this point,” said Romney campaign spokesman Christopher Walker. “Also, as we’ve seen in the previous two months of fundraising, we have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the campaign.”
The president’s visit also served as low-hanging fruit for Republicans, with Gov. Rick Perry leading the charge. Hours before Obama landed in Austin, Perry, who was recently thrust back into the national spotlight after announcing that Texas would not expand Medicaid to include coverage of the state’s poorest adults, slammed the president for recent statements U.S. Attorney Eric Holder made about the state’s contentious voter ID law. Holder compared the law, which requires that voters show a photo ID before casting a ballot and is currently tangled up in federal courts, to a poll tax reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.
“Perhaps while the president is visiting Texas, he can take a break from big-dollar fundraisers to disavow his attorney general’s offensive and incendiary comments regarding our common-sense voter identification law,” Perry said in a statement. “Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face.”