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Obama, Elizabeth Warren rally Boston faithful with populist pitch

June 25, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren wave to a crowd at a campaign fundraiser at Boston Symphony Hall.
President Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren wave to a crowd… (CJ Gunther / European Pressphoto…)

BOSTON – President Obama joined forces with Elizabeth Warren in making a populist pitch before the party faithful at a fundraiser here, saying voters will decide this fall whether to return to policies that benefit a wealthy few or invest in an economy focused on building a more prosperous middle class.

Warren, who advocated for and ultimately helped set up the president’s new consumer board and now is running for one of Massachusetts’ U.S. Senate seats, did not mention her potential foe in November, incumbent Republican Scott Brown. Instead, she railed against Mitt Romney and his famous declaration last summer in Iowa that “corporations are people.”

“People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They love and they cry and they dance,” she said to an energized crowd at Boston’s Symphony Hall, members of which paid at least $144 for entrance. “Mitt, learn this: We don’t run this country for corporations. We run it for people.”

The presidential race is about whose side you are on, Warren said, adding that in the fight for the consumer board she saw up close who the president was fighting for.

Romney, she said, wants the “rich and powerful get richer and more powerful.”

“President Obama says we celebrate success. But all of us make investments to build the future. So the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That’s what America is all about,” she said.

Obama, greeted by a thunderous ovation after Warren’s introduction, was equally effusive in his praise of the Senate hopeful, telling attendees how lucky they were to have a chance to vote for her.

“She has been a fierce advocate since before I knew her for the middle class. She has been advocating on core issues that matter to families her entire career. She is going to be an outstanding senator for Massachusetts,” the president said.

Turning to his own campaign, Obama said the nation’s history has shown that prosperity comes not from the top down, but through a thriving middle class. Republicans’ economic theories have already been tested and failed, he said, reprising a common theme. He also rejected the notion that there’s been a “heavy tilt” to the left by the Democratic Party under his administration.

“I don’t believe that government can solve every problem,” he said. But he quoted Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, as saying that government should do what individuals cannot do well by themselves.

“There’s nothing radical about that vision. That’s the vision that built this country,” he said.

Obama said he was confident that a majority of Americans agreed with his vision, even some Republicans, he offered, though they “just can’t admit it now.” But he warned of the spending to come by Republicans and outside groups, more than in any election in history.

“Even if they buy what the other side is selling, it’s hard in this environment. Sometimes people feel discouraged. Cynicism creeps in. And the other side, they feed on it,” he said.

The Symphony Hall event was the second of three fundraisers in Boston on Monday. The total pushed the number of campaign fundraisers in 2012 over 100, according to CBS News’ Mark Knoller, unofficial record keeper of the White House press corps.

The Romney campaign, which is headquartered here, made a show of force outside the event, with supporters and their signs competing with Warren and Obama backers and other protesters. In a statement, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams welcomed Obama to the state and contrasted his record to Romney’s in four years as governor.

“If President Obama had even half of Mitt Romney’s fiscal record, he’d be running on it,” Williams said.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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