Obama: ‘We are going to restore the American dream’

Slideshow: A look back at the Moving America Forward rally on Friday.

“We need all of you to fight on. We need all of you fired up.”

President Barack Obama’s words echoed across Alumni Park on Friday, where more than 37,500 students, faculty and visitors gathered to hear the president and prominent state politicians speak at a rally.

The president called on students to recreate the enthusiasm and voter turnout present during his 2008 election, as part of an effort to drum up support for California Democrats facing tough races this November. Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer served as the focal points of Friday’s “Moving America Forward” event, a rally organized by the Democratic National Committee and hosted by USC’s Political Student Assembly.

President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of about 37,500 at USC on Friday. The president had to wait for chants of "Yes we can" to die down before he spoke. Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

“The only way to fight it is all of you, all of these voices. All of you being committed to finishing what we started in 2008,” Obama said.

Lines for the event snaked past the boundaries of campus as students and visitors from across Southern California arrived at USC as early as 3:30 a.m. to ensure a spot in Obama’s audience.

Energy was high throughout the event, which started around 12:25 p.m. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the crowd, along with celebrities Kal Penn and Jamie Foxx. Several California politicians also spoke, including Assembly Speaker John Pérez and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, before the stars of the show took the stage.

Brown gave a succinct speech in which he stressed his commitment to the state’s future.

“California has a place for all of us, not just some, not just the ones at the top who have most of the resources,” he said. “The country works when we share.”

Boxer, a third-term incumbent who is locked in a tight race with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, also spoke about the shared responsibility of voters — something she said Republicans failed to recognize.

“The other side is trying to depress voter turnout. They are hoping that you don’t vote in this election,” Boxer said. “They are hoping that you don’t see the choice in this election. They even sent around an ad telling the Latino voters to stay home.”

The consistent message from all of Friday's speakers was that voters — especially students — need to turn out to the polls on Nov. 2. Dan Doperalski | Daily Trojan

And then, with audience anticipation visibly mounting, Boxer introduced the president, who had to wait for applause and chants of “Yes we can” to die down before he spoke.

During his address, Obama emphasized what he said was the choice between past policies and future progress.

“You need to remember that this election is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are leading out of this mess,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that our fight hasn’t been working. Don’t let them tell you that we’re not making a difference.”

Obama described the political atmosphere in Washington, D.C. as a car driven into a ditch by the Republicans during former President George W. Bush’s administration.

“It was a really deep ditch, and somehow they were able to walk away from the accident — but they didn’t get the car out of the ditch,” Obama said. “[Democrats] are pushing to get the car out of the ditch. And even though Barbara Boxer’s small, she’s pushing too.”

The important thing, he said, is to make sure Democrats maintain control of Washington.

“We’ve got to tell them, ‘You can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive,’” Obama said. “‘You can ride with us, but you’ve got to be in the backseat.’”

The way to ensure this, Obama said, is for students to simply show up and vote on Nov. 2.

“If you knock on some doors and make some phone calls and keep marching and keep organizing,” Obama said. “We won’t just win this election. We are going to restore the American dream.”

5 replies
  1. Gay
    Gay says:

    Too bad that USC allowed themselves to be used as a pawn of the administration to highlight Boxer’s failed career as a California Senator. She has been in Washington for 28 years with nothing substantial to show for it. She supported the Obama healthcare bill, supported the stimulus that has not stimulated the economy, supports Cap and Trade, voted against the funding to provide protective equipment for the troops, voted to turn off the water in the Central Valley in favor of a fish causing family farmers to go bankrupt, is one of the reasons that CA has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, is self serving, voted for legislation causing such strict regulation on businesses that forced many companies to outsource jobs to foreign companies. I wish that at least USC could have provided a forum for both sides of the argument so that students could have at least a complete picture of what they are voting for instead of a slanted view presented by this photo opportunity staged by the administration.

  2. Willy Wonka
    Willy Wonka says:

    “It was a really deep ditch, and somehow they were able to walk away from the accident — but they didn’t get the car out of the ditch,” Obama said. “[Democrats] are pushing to get the car out of the ditch. And even though Barbara Boxer’s small, she’s pushing too.”

    You think that’s just a tad condescending and patronizing for a speech on a university campus? Ah, but the young, little Democrats need simple metaphors to understand really complicated politics that are way over their young, little heads and minds.

  3. Christopher Ganiere
    Christopher Ganiere says:

    Is it not ironic that the “D” party, so focused on the environment, bails out the auto industry and uses auto metaphors to describe their way of governing when in their next breath they demonize the oil industry?

  4. Pike #1
    Pike #1 says:

    Note the lack of a presidential seal on the podium. The only thing that made sense about his visit….

  5. mamartinez
    mamartinez says:

    It would be nice if USC would have someone who is *actually* progressive address crowds of students on campus. It would be better still if people truly wanted “change.”

    Sad that this is the phony, platitudinous crap we’re stuck with.

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