The mood was electric as supporters waited to see the president. Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy, and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal warmed up the crowd, calling on voters to get to the polls and urge everyone they know to do the same on Tuesday.
The president’s visit was designed to energize several Democratic campaigns, but Freshman Congressman Jim Himes had perhaps the most to gain from the event. Himes rode a wave of support for President Obama in 2008 and will need big voter turnout in urban centers like Bridgeport to win.
Himes told voters their choice is clear. "We can let others choose to take us back to an America of another time. A darker America, market crashes and oil spills and shrinking prosperity or we can choose to kept this country moving forward, to keep doing the hard work to restore prosperity and justice and opportunity," said Himes.
Then Himes said what the crowd was waiting to hear: "It is now my honor to introduce the man who carries forward our hopes and aspirations, the president of the United States, Barack Obama."
President Obama told supporters not to believe the cynics. He said the change he promised in 2008 is possible, but not easy, and he urged voters to honor the spirit of those who’ve pushed forward in the face of adversity and oppression throughout America’s history. "We need that spirit today. I need that here in Connecticut, Bridgeport. And I promise you this. If you bring that spirit over the next few days. If you are knocking on doors, if you are making phone calls. If you’re going to the barber shops and the beauty shops and talking to your friends and talking to your neighbors. If all the young people who came out in 2008 say yes we can again I promise you we will not just win an election. We are going to restore this economy, we are going to rebuild our middle class. We are going to deliver the American dream."
The president was interrupted at one point by a group of hecklers protesting global AIDS funding. He told them Democrats have done more than Republicans would to support AIDS programs. After the rally, Sue Fulleton of Bloomfield was thrilled. "It was like a revival and I’m still shaking from getting to shake hands with the president. It was quite an experience. One I’ll never forget."
Bridgeport was one of several stops on the president’s whirlwind weekend campaign sweep for Democrats.