GOLDEN—President Obama walked a fine line between politics and policy in his speech here Thursday, vowing to bring to justice the Libyan attackers who killed four Americans this week and then chiding Republicans for embracing tax cuts.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 8,000 supporters at Lions Park, Obama promised that “we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice.”
“I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished,” said Obama. “It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.”
The tone was far stronger than that adopted Tuesday by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo shortly before a mob attempted to storm the building.
The embassy released a statement saying that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims–as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
The Obama administration later retracted the statement. In Golden, the president told the crowd that he had issued orders “to do whatever is necessary to protect all Americans who are serving abroad. It’s one of my highest priorities as President.”
After that, it was back to politics as usual as the president mocked Republicans for their commitment to reducing taxes.
“Tax cuts in good times. Tax cuts in bad times. Tax cuts when we’re at peace. Tax cuts when we’re at war,” said Obama as the crowd laughed. “You need to make a restaurant reservation, you don’t need the new iPhone — here’s a tax cut for that. You want to learn a new language? Try a tax cut. Tax cut to lose a few extra pounds. Whatever ails you.”
At the same time, the president said, “I’ve cut taxes for folks who need it — middle-class families, small business owners.”
“So I want to give tax relief to folks who need it, but I don’t believe another round of tax cuts for millionaires are going to bring good jobs back to our shores,” said Obama. “They’re not going to bring down our deficits.”
The president came under criticism for hitting the campaign trail so soon after the deaths of the embassy personnel, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. The sieges on both the Cairo embassy and Libyan consulate took place Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“In the midst of a major international crisis, it’s appalling that President Obama is spending his time campaigning for reelection instead of hunting down the Islamic radicals responsible for murdering four innocent Americans,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, president of Compass Colorado.
The campaign swing marks the president’s third stop in Colorado in as many weeks, prompting Republicans to speculate that the Obama campaign may be concerned about his level of support here.
“Why does he keep coming back? It’s because he’s got a tough sell,” said Attorney General John Suthers. “He’s got to convince these people that hope and change are working.”
Suthers was part of a Republican contingent featuring Josh Romney, son of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, that rolled into Golden on the Romney campaign bus about an hour after the president concluded his speech.
“Do you think he’s a little nervous?” asked Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call. “And frankly, my friends, he should be. He’s losing ground, and the reason is his record.”
Josh Romney, the third of the five Romney brothers, said his father is committed to improving the sagging economy.
“My dad had a lot of success in business, and he had some failures. And he learned from both experiences,” said Romney. “You think about what we need in Washington: someone who has the know-how to get this economy going again.”
Jefferson County, with its even registration of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, is considered a crucial battleground county in a swing state coveted by both presidential campaigns.
The event broke with the president’s recent tradition of appearing on Colorado campuses—his last four rallies have been held at state colleges and universities–although not by much, given that the Colorado School of Mines is just a few blocks away.
In his speech, Obama said that Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan had told him that he was the first sitting president to visit Jefferson County since Ulysses S. Grant, an achievement the president called “pretty impressive.”
The Colorado GOP issued a statement a few hours later pointing out that President George W. Bush campaigned in 2004 at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison.
“President Obama is not the first president to visit Jefferson County,” said Colorado Republican Party spokesman Justin Miller. “He is, however, the first president to visit Jefferson County with 43 straight months of higher than 8 percent unemployment and a $16 trillion national debt under his belt.”