(Photos by Jeanne Erickson)
Thousands gathered in front of City Hall Nov. 5 as President Barack Obama returned to Madison one last time on the eve of the national presidential election.
Rock legend Bruce Springsteen, who had previously joined Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 at a Madison rally that attracted 80,000 people, warmed up the large crowd with four songs.
“Let me begin by giving a shout out to all of our neighbors in the Northeast who are still reeling from Hurricane Sandy,” Springsteen said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Springsteen then introduced the president who came on the stage in front of the City-County Building and gave Springsteen a big hug before touching on the topic of Hurricane Sandy himself.
“For the past week, even amidst all of this campaign and electioneering and way too many TV commercials, all of us —including Bruce [Springsteen] — have been focused on one of the worst storms in our lifetimes,” Obama said. “I’ve had the chance to visit New Jersey. Everyday I’ve been talking to mayors, governors, local officials, and families and we mourn those lives that have been lost.
“Whenever a tragedy besets the American family, the American people come together and make a commitment that we will walk with these folks whose lives have been upended every step along the hard road to recovery,” he added. “We’ll carry on no matter how bad the storm is .... we will be there together.”
The Madison visit was the president’s third to Wisconsin over five days. He was in Green Bay on Thursday and in Milwaukee for a rally with pop singer Katy Perry on Saturday night.
Obama said that the American spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey of the last two centuries.
“In 2008, we were in the midst of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Obama said. “Today, our businesses have created nearly five and a half million new jobs. The American auto industry is back on top. Home values are on the rise. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than at any time over the last 20 years and we’ve doubled the production of clean energy across America.
“Because of the brave sacrifices of our men and women, the war in Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is coming to a close. Osama bin Laden is dead,” Obama continued.
Obama spoke for about 25 minutes during his fifth visit to Wisconsin during the campaign year. This event also featured words from former Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl and Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin.
“The reason that we are all gathered here is because we know we have more work to do,” Obama said. “As long as there is a single American who wants a job but can’t find one, we have more work to do. As long as there are families who are working harder and harder but still falling behind, we’ve got more work to do. As long as there is a child anywhere — in Madison, in Wisconsin, in America — who is languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our work is not yet done. The fight goes on.”