The road to the White House clearly goes through our viewing area. Before an estimated crowd of 3,040 people, President Barack Obama gave a campaign speech Friday evening in downtown Roanoke.
Obama, who is seeking a second term as president against presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, opened up the Roanoke event by saying "It's good to be back in Roanoke. ... Let me say this. If I win Virginia, I'm going to get four more years. That I can say with confidence."
Last month Romney gave a campaign speech in Salem. During President Obama's speech Friday, he touched on a variety of issues, from what he called a stalemate in Congress, to his decision to bail out the American automobile industry, jobs, and the economy.
"The problem we've got right now is that we've got a stalemate in Washington," Obama said. "I don't believe in outsourcing, I believe in in-sourcing. I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. Let's give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Roanoke, right here in the USA."
He also touched on taxes, health care, education, and transportation.
"Roanoke knows something about transportation. This was a railroad hub for a long time," the President said.
The event was held at Historic Fire Station No. 1 on Church Avenue, and was clearly a campaign visit. President Obama spoke for about 40 minutes, clearly trying to reach out to get local votes. In the 2008 election against John McCain, Obama was the first Democrat to win Virginia since 1964.
"Unless you've managed to break your television set, you are probably aware that it's campaign season," Obama said. "We will finish what we started, and we will restore that basic bargain that built this country."
Obama invoked his mother and grandfather as examples of the American dream. Obama's mother was a single mom, and his grandfather fought in World War II, and later bought a home with an FHA loan.
"You can live out the American dream. That's what binds us all together," Obama told the crowd.
President Obama, sounding much like Candidate Obama during his 2008 stop to the Roanoke Civic Center, talked in depth about the middle class. He said that under his leadership, the typical family received a $3,600 tax cut.
"The bottom line is, the top two percent doesn't need help. They're doing just fine," Obama said.
Obama also mentioned about Congress' 33 attempts to try and vote toe overrule his controversial health care plan, commonly referred to as "Obama Care."
"I don't know about you Virginia, but I think they've got a better way to use their time."
Several people in the crowd suffered from the affects of the high humidity. Twenty-one people were treated by medics. One person was transported to the hospital.
"Make sure you're drinking water," President Obama told them.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner introduced President Obama.
“We can't let the other guys re-write history,” Warner said.
For a Republican response, Salem delegate Greg Habeeb hoped the President had a time to talk with all types of people here in Virginia.
"And I hope while he's here he gets a chance to see first hand the consequences of his policies," Habeeb said. "How the unemployment has skyrocketed, the debt has skyrocketed. We see up and down Southwest and Southside Virginia the impact of coal and energy rates."
Former Virginia governor Tim Kaine also spoke to the crowd. Kaine is running for Jim Webb's Senate seat against another former Virginia governor, Republican George Allen.
"We don't need more wedge issues in this country. We need more glue issues that will bring us together," Kaine told them.
Meg Harlow of Roanoke sang the National Anthem. The invocation was given by Roanoke City Council member Sherman Lea, who is an ordained minister.
The crowd was warmed up by an up-and-coming local bluegrass group called "The Church Sisters," who are 16-year-old twins from Danville.
Earlier Friday, President Obama spoke to military families at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach. That speech focused on economic policies, and touted that he kept his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq.
Obama also learned during his time in Virginia that a 29-year-old campaign aide died at the campaign's headquarters in Chicago. Alex Orkent worked in the campaign's media department, according to the Associated Press.