From the second Obama-Sestak event, a pricier dinner reception, here's the pool report from Politico's Carol Lee:
POTUS says 2010 elections about same thing 2008 election was about, tells donors it’s not about him it’s about them, criticizes “sound-bite leaders” and Republicans for pushing tax cuts while making an issue out of the deficit; Sestak corrects JFK:
Sestak and POTUS took to the stage together in a larger ballroom at the convention center. Donors sat at round tables of 10 draped in white table cloths and accented with red cloth napkins. They were at the coffee phase of their meal during the event. There was no podium, just a hand-held mic for POTUS and Sestak on a stage draped in black cloth.
Sestak began this introduction of POTUS with another story. “I will be brief because I know who I’m introducing,” he said, adding: “with great honor.”
This tale focused not on the Bible, but the military, where he talked about being aboard an aircraft carrier with 5,000 sailors and the kind of accountability that comes with that.
About half way into Sestak’s four-minute intro, the microphone cut out. He talked about POTUS’s comment earlier that “we did the right thing.”
“Imagine a Washington, D.C. that accountable where someone said, ‘We did the right thing,’” Sestak said, drawing out the “we did the right thing” part.
“This is not just a leader, this is an accountable leader,” Sestak said of POTUS.
The rest is below the jump.
The congressman then sought to correct President John F. Kennedy.
“John F. Kennedy didn’t have it quite right, where he said one man can make a difference and every man can try. I’d like to be one of several men and join together with this leader to change that city back upon us,” Sestak said.
POTUS spoke for about 20 minutes.
The mic went out on him too when he was in the middle of praising the Philadelphia Eagles, who barely beat the Detroit Lions yesterday, and – at the prompting of an audience member – the Phillies.
At the direction of an aide, he picked up a backup mic on the floor in front of him. “How’s that?” he said, tapping it.
On Sestak: “I’m next to somebody who has served this country for so well so long. He’s only been an elected official for a brief time. But he has served this country with extraordinary distinction for years. And for the right reasons. He helped keep this country safe, but he also understood – which is why he’s running for the United States Senate – that America’s only safe if our core foundation is strong. And Joe understands – just as I understood when I ran back in 2008 – that for a long time our foundation had been weakened. And that’s really what this election is about, just as much as what the election back in 2008 was about.”
Obama talked about the Republican “economic philosophy” – “cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires” – that he said shrank the middle class.
“It was a very particular ideology and we tried it for eight years,” he said. “And the result was that middle class families all across families lost ground and those aspiring to climb to the middle class found out that hard work and responsibility were not always rewarded. A lot of people started losing faith in the possibilities of America. That’s what the election of 2008 was all about. We had a very clear choice of continuing to do the things that we were doing that weren’t working, or trying something new.”
POTUS used his favorite car-in-a-ditch scene, dramatizing it along the way. And he did his usual spiel about Republicans not going out into the desert and having a “eureka moment” and coming up with new ideas. But, still, he said: “The other side pushes back.”
He touted health care, financial regulatory reform and other legislative victories. “I am so proud over the work we’ve done over the past 20 months. And Joe Sestak has helped every step of the way,” he said.
He criticized Republicans for making the deficit a campaign issue while pushing to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
“You now have a whole bunch of folks out there understandably and legitimately concerned about deficits and debt. And so the Republicans are trying to ride this wave – ‘We are opposed to go spending. And we are going to take our country back,’” he said, mocking them. “And then they propose and $700 billion extension of tax cuts for the top 3 percent of the country – top 2 percent of the country – a tax cut that 86 percent of it would go to people making $1 million a year or more...”
“That’s their growth agenda. $700 billion we don’t have so we would have to borrow – from China or the Saudis or somebody – because we don’t have it,” Obama said, adding that $700 billion is the same amount the U.S. spends on Homeland Security and is the “is the budget for Veterans Affairs over the course of 10 years. Everything we spend on our veterans we would have to think of how to come up with that much money.” homeland
“All this for folks who don’t need a tax cut, weren’t even looking for a tax cut. Well, that means you’re not serious about he deficit. That means it’s just talk and rhetoric.”
These are “serious times” that require “serious leaders,” Obama said.
“We can’t have sound-bite leaders,” Obama said. “We need people who are willing to not just do what’s easy. Not just look at a poll or figure out which way the cable chatter is going and rush over and not try to get in front of the line. We need people who have the guts and the backbone to stand up and say, ‘this is what’s right.’”
He, of course, considers himself one of those leaders.
“You did not elect me to do what was right,” he said, “and that’s what I’ve been trying to do and that’s what Joe Sestak is all about.”
POTUS said during a receiving line a man told him he has to come back to Philadelphia and get folks fired up.
“I said, you know what, you’ve got to get them fired up. This is not just me. This is not a spectator sport. The reason that I was elected president was because people like you all across this country were willing to knock on doors, talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors,” he said.
“You generated the excitement. It wasn’t about me, it was about you. And because we’ve gone through a difficult time over the last two years, a lot of people are suddenly saying, ‘Well you know what maybe our hopes were too high. Maybe it’s not worth getting involved. Change didn’t happen as quickly as I expected. Maybe this is the best we can do.’ Well I am here to say that change is always hard. Things that are worthwhile are always hard. They always take time because we live in a big messy democracy with a diverse population of people from every walk of life. And because we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, sometimes democracy can look just tough. But that’s what makes so extraordinary. As long as all of you are willing to engage. So don’t wait for me to come back to Philadelphia. Don’t want for me to elect Joe Sestak. You go out there and elect Joe Sestak.”
At 6:28 p.m. motorcade was rolling from the convention center and arrived at the DNC fundraiser a few minutes later.