Friday, July 13, 2012
Editorial: The president comes calling
Virginia's swing state status gives Roanoke another photo op.
From the RoundTable blog
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Barack Obama came to Roanoke in 2008 as the Democratic candidate for president of the United States, the first black American to head a major party's national ticket.
President Obama returns today on a re-election campaign swing through Virginia in hopes of repeating his feat of four years ago, when the Democratic ticket swung red Virginia into the blue column for the first time in 44 years and gave America its first black president.
Downtown Roanoke's historic Fire Station No. 1, the advertised venue for Obama's appearance today, calls to mind the history-making nature of his election. Hundreds turned out Wednesday in Roanoke and Roanoke County to claim free tickets to today's event, ensuring the president an enthusiastic welcome by supporters.
The only color on most people's minds this election year, though, is purple.
Virginia is a swing state that both parties are wooing hard. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney came a-courtin' last month, and drew a friendly crowd of about 1,500 to Carter Machinery in Salem.
Now Obama is coming to call, dogged by history again. Will the Democratic incumbent who in 2008 offered hope to Americans shaken by the Great Recession be able to keep Virginia's favor as economic hardships linger? Will voters embrace the president's signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a historic achievement, or recoil from it in fear?
The downside of being a purple state is that Virginians already have been, and surely will continue to be, bombarded with media ads that distort issues and records and demonize candidates in this high-stakes race.
The upside is that Virginians, more than residents of most states, at least will have a chance to see the presidential contenders up close, and perhaps catch an unscripted moment that gives a real sense of each man.
And everyone can bask briefly in the excitement a presidential campaign brings to the Roanoke Valley. Especially a presidential visit. This is a historic moment for the Roanoke Valley. Welcome, Mr. President.