Obama gets rockstar welcome at town hall meeting

March 19, 2009

President Barack Obama on Wednesday stepped out from behind the podium, took off his suit jacket and dispensed with the teleprompters to defend his budget, attack Republicans who label him a tax-and-spend Democrat and express outrage at the bonuses paid at insurance giant AIG.
Obama, who has made no secret of the fact he chafes in the White House “bubble” and enjoys engaging directly with Americans, headed west to California to hold a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, a town of about 113,000 in Orange County that has been hard hit by the recession. 
Obama’s critics say his comments expressing outrage at the AIG bonuses and other Wall Street scandals lack passion because they are often scripted and read from a teleprompter.
But on Wednesday, Obama sounded like he was back on the election campaign trail as he rounded on Republicans for criticizing his $3.5 trillion 2010 budget, which he says is crucial to tackling the worst economic crisis in decades.
“Most of these critics presided over a doubling of the national debt. We are inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit. So they don’t have the standing to make this criticism, I think, given how irresponsible they’ve been,”  he said.
Under the glare of hot lights in an uncomfortably warm hall at Costa Mesa’s state fairgrounds, Obama invited his audience to ask him questions and feel free to take him to task and tell him if he was a “bum and doing a bad job”.
But there was little danger of that. When he entered the hall, he received a rockstar welcome.
Obama at times spoke with passion, his voice rising above the cheers, while he was at times professorial, explaining credit default swaps and mortgage-backed securities and breaking his promise to keep his answers short as he explained how and why America’s economy had plunged to such depths.
Despite the fact that he has only been in office two months, one of the first questions he fielded was from a woman asking him if he would run for re-election in four years’ time.
“I would rather be a good president taking on the tough issues for four years than a mediocre president for eight years,” he replied.
And if he fails to deliver on his promises on health care, education and fixing the economy, then it will be the voters and not he who decides whether he runs again.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama at town hall meeting in California)


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Open comment.
Mr President I have a question. Is it wise to expend finances on infrastructure that that mires the American economy to the tune of billions of dollars or is it prudent to look to the future with solutions for the 21st Century?
Liquid Flow Traffic infrastructure when placed into the city mosaic of roads will eliminate jams gridlock and congestion.
It lets everyone drive across town in peak traffic and never stop at a single intersection.
Yours Sincerely, Jozef Goj CEO UBTSC Pty Ltd

Posted by Jozef Goj | Report as abusive

Good. This is a time when we need more than soundbite answers which is all we get from the GOP. And he’s right about the GOP being responsible for the deficit we already had too; who else was in control of Congress and the White House for most of the last eight years? Who else actively pushed for a war of choice over reasons that could have easily been falsifiable if the commander in chief had done his due diligence?

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Is there somewhere to see where President Obama will be holding upcoming Town Hall meetings? I’d like to attend one in my area.

Posted by Lucia Colon | Report as abusive

This is the best president this country has since Kennedy.

Posted by PETREU DUNA | Report as abusive

when he is with the other rock stars can they ask one of them to explain to him why the 24 dvd,s he gave to the brittish prime minister, don,t work ,they have a different system over there.i think sarah palin might have known that.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

This guy was critical of Bush and the boys for double the national debt and allowing the government spending to get out of control but now he is going to surpass his spending by a long shot. He is an Obamanation. Biden 09′

Posted by bph | Report as abusive

I hope the American people do not judge the success of a President by the things he does not achieve due to a lack of cooperation by another branch of government. For those Republicans who Hate Obama and Democrats who hate Bush, let’s keep it real. You are all way over the top. Regarding the big issues, I don’t see a whole lot of difference with any of these people. They all flip-flop and don’t like removing our troops from anywhere in the world.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I love you Obama!

Posted by Quiet Professional | Report as abusive