President Obama speaks during his "A Vision for Virginia's… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )
Kicking off a two-day swing through Virginia on Friday, President Obama ribbed the Republican-led House of Representativesfor its repeated attempts to repeal his healthcare law.
“I notice the House of Representatives, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, they voted to repeal it again,” a mocking Obama told a crowd gathered in Green Run High School in Virginia Beach. “That was the 33rd time they've done that. Thirty-three votes to repeal the healthcare bill. All it would take is one vote to make sure that all of you don't see your taxes go up next year. You tell me what would be a better use of time.”
The president’s speeches on this trip to the Tidewater area, a swing region crucial to winning a swing state, are expected to stick closely to his message on middle class taxes, campaign aides said. Obama this week launched a new push to put pressure on Congress to extend the George W. Bush-era tax breaks for middle-income earners, while letting the breaks expire for earnings over $250,000. Tax rates are scheduled to reset to the higher levels Jan. 1.
Obama’s remarks, the first of three speeches scheduled for the day, retread the president’s own modest upbringing. Obama told the story of his family’s summer road trips, in which he traveled with his sister and grandmother by Greyhound bus and train and stayed in Howard Johnson motels.
“I think twice we rented a car,” Obama said, making a not-so-subtle contrast between his background and that of his opponent Mitt Romney, the son of an auto executive and governor.
Aside from the middle-class message, the president’s trip to Virginia included more targeted outreach to military families in a region dominated by military bases and defense contractors. Obama made an unannounced lunch stop at Rick’s Cafe, a restaurant near the Oceana Naval Air Station, where the president chatted and ate with military wives.
The Romney campaign worked to undermine this outreach on Friday. In an open letter published in the Virginian Pilot, Romney accused the president of not doing enough to block scheduled budget cuts that would gouge defense spending next year and likely cost thousands of jobs in Virginia.
“Your insistence on slashing our military to pay the tab for your irresponsible spending could see over 200,000 troops forced from service,” Romney wrote. “It will shut the doors on factories and shipyards that support our war fighters, take a heavy toll on the guard and reserves, and potentially shutter Virginia military bases.”
Obama has opposed the defense cuts, which were approved by Republican and Democratic lawmakers last year as part of the deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. They are scheduled to take effect automatically next year unless Congress approves some other method to reduce the federal deficit.
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