Salem Democrats impressed by Obama’s presence
SALEM – One of the most enthusiastic Democrats in Virginia got an opportunity to tell President Barack Obama during what he needs to do better, during the president’s visit to Roanoke.
Salem resident Cabell Brand even got a hug from the president, who told Brand he knew who he was. The 89-year-old, five grandchildren and other family members had preferential VIP seating behind the stage to greet the president before he spoke at the historic Fire Station No. 1 on July 13.
“I told him he should protect ‘Protect what we’ve got,’ such as Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, environmental regulations and the federal government’s role in disaster relief,” said Brand. He also advised the president to concentrate on tearing apart the Ryan Budget, “where the Republicans want to destroy everything we have worked for.”
Brand explained he told the president the “biggest mistake since you’ve been in office was cutting the Community Service Block Grants, which affects 2,000 community service agencies. He said ‘We only restructured it,’ and I told him ‘No, you cut them out.’ ”
Brand said he wanted to give Obama a copy of his book, “If Not Me, Then Who?…” but Secret Service agents would not allow it. “Secret Service was all over the place. I’ve never seen so many Secret Service agents,” he added.
“I told him I was glad to see him and former Gov. Tim Kaine and Senator Warner come to this part of Virginia. The president told me ‘If we win Virginia, we win the election.’ ”
Sixteen-year-old Shelley Pence, a senior at Salem High School and one of Brand’s granddaughters, called seeing the president “An amazing, even life-changing experience. I was in the fifth row and got to shake Obama’s hand. Hearing in person how he wants to help the middle class by creating jobs makes me want to go out and do everything I can to help get him elected in November,” she said.
Her grandfather took a number of photos of Obama when he came over to shake hands, including one of the president reaching over the fence to shake the hand of grandson Cabell Keating Brand of Saluda, N.C. who is a student at Appalachian State.
Other Brand grandchildren who were with their grandfather at the Obama appearance were Brandon and Katie Cline from Richmond and Rachel Pence from Salem.
One of the Salem Democrats who was at the president’s speech, Cynthia Munley, explained “She’s a Democrat who’s been critical of the president, although I’d never vote for Romney.”
The secretary of the Salem Democrats said she is glad Obama is campaigning to restore the middle class. “If it’s taken longer than it should for recovery, it’s because Obama tried too long, too hard to make deals with Republicans—like the 2010 extension of Bush tax cuts for the rich. Obama’s right to brag about his bringing back the American car industry against Romney’s wishes.
“In his speech, he pushed for hiring more teachers, adequately funding education, refinancing under-water mortgages, building rural wireless and high speed rail and rebuilding our infrastructure. He’s right that Republicans’ trickle-down ideas won’t work and that Congress is stalemated (with Republicans whose main goal is to obstruct, impede economic recovery, retain tax cuts for the rich and see Obama fail).”
She added that if Obama backs up his middle class strategy with sensible policies, “It will resonate with Virginians who desperately want a better future for their kids. Virginia is in play and may even be the next Ohio or Florida. That’s why Obama came.”
Although Cabell Brand has met many other sitting presidents and has a close relationship with President Jimmy Carter, it was his first time meeting Obama, he said, and he was impressed.
“He was very personable and friendly and smiling all the time.”