President Obama greets supporters during a rally with Oregon gubernatorial… (Associated Press )
Reporting from Seattle and Los Angeles — President Obama tried to light a spark under an enthusiastic crowd in the state of Washington on Thursday, hoping to ignite voters to keep Democrats in control of Congress and re-elect Sen. Patty Murray, locked in a tight race.
Speaking at rally in Seattle, part of his swing through the West, Obama stressed how hard his administration has worked to deal with inherited economic woes and urged voters, especially women, to cast the ballots needed to keep Democrats in control of the House and Senate.
“We need you fired up,” Obama said. “In just a few days, this election is going to set the direction of this state and this country for years to come.”
Many of Obama’s comments were tried-and-true campaign themes he has used before as he criss-crossed the country in this midterm election. He praised his economic policies that he insisted prevented another depression, though there is much still to be done to cope with the fallout from the recession. The president attacked Republicans, misleading political ads and special interests including Wall Street and big business.
Republicans represent a return to the very policies that have damaged the country, he said, urging that people to vote this year for change, completing the job they had begun in 2008 when they elected Obama president.
“I don’t want to relive the past,” Obama said before launching into what has become his favorite campaign anecdote involving a car, representing the country, that Republicans have driven into a ditch. Democrats have worked to right the nation so the GOP now wants to take over the driving again.
Obama was optimistic despite polls showing the GOP running strongly. He repeated his campaign theme of “Yes, we can” as he reminded the audience of the power of the vote.
When Murray was first took office in 1993, she “was just a mom in tennis shoes” who wanted to solve problems. “Now she needs our help,” Obama said. “Let’s get this done,” Obama said. “Let’s get Patty Murray back in Senate."
Murray faces a close race against Republican Dino Rossi. Polls show them statistically even.
Obama's apperance was part of a four-day swing through five states. Earlier, he focused on bringing out the women's vote as he continued to campaign through the West, crucial to Democrats in the midterm elections.
Obama began his day by speaking in a small setting, the backyard of a Seattle family's home, where he told a handful of officials and neighbors that his administration was working to heal an ailing economy that he inherited from the Bush administration.
"It turns out, men have gotten really hard hit in this recession. They lost jobs faster, particularly in the construction industry," Obama said in his opening remarks at the home of the Foss family -- Erik and Cynnie, married for 14 years, and their two daughters.
"What is interesting is that the economy has changed. Women have made such enormous strides," the president said, citing how women are now more than half of the workforce and earn more than half the money that comes into middle-class families.
"When you talk about what's happened to the middle class, you are talking about what's happened to women," Obama said, sounding what is expected to be the day's campaign theme.
After the visit, Obama headed to the University of Washington for the rally. When it ended he headed to Northern California to campaign for Democrats, including, on Friday, Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Murray and Boxer are in close races as Republicans fight to take over control of Congress in the Nov. 2 election. Democrats hope that Obama's popularity on the West Coast will shore up what they see as a firewall against the GOP. Polls show Republicans gaining influence in both congressional chambers but having a better shot at winning the House than the Senate.
In his campaign swing, Obama is stressing economic issues while trying to excite the voters who helped Democrats win in 2008. Democrats traditionally enjoy an edge over Republicans with female voters.
As part of the push to attract women, the White House National Economic Council on Thursday released a report titled "Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women."; Obama had earlier cited the same report.
"Since his first day in office, President Obama has focused on laying the foundation for economic growth that creates good jobs and a healthy economy for all Americans. Strengthening opportunities for women in our economy is a key focus of the president's economic agenda" Valerie Jarrett, a senior presidential advisor and chairwoman of the White House Council on Women and Girls, argued in a blog post.
The report outlines the growing economic importance of women.