The country got a glimpse at who Mitt Romney really is when a video recently leaked showing him dismissing 47 percent of Americans as victims who depend on government handouts. At a Gotta Vote bus tour stop at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Dana Wachs, who's running for a seat in the state assembly, told this story of what Romney's comments meant to a man he met knocking on doors:
"The other day, I was campaigning in my district, and I was going through walk sheets, and I got a couple blocks mixed up—should've gone to the left, but I went to the right and walked up, knocked on the door. Then I turned around and there were pretty conservative bumper stickers on the car, and there were pretty conservative flags flying on the flagpole. I thought, my goodness, I'm going to be in there for a long time.
"And the door opened, and I said, 'I'm Dana Wachs, and I'm a Democrat running for the state assembly.' And this guy wheeled up to the door in a wheelchair, and he put his hand out, and he said, 'You're a Democrat?' I said yeah. He said, 'I've never voted for a Democrat, but I was wounded in the war, and I'm voting for one now.'"
If you don't want a president who's so quick to dismiss our combat troops and disabled veterans as "victims," then you gotta vote.
During a Gotta Vote bus tour stop at the Schofield Oriental Market, a grocery store and gathering place for the Hmong community in Wausau, Thomas, OFA's Hmong vote director, says his community—more than 50,000 strong in Wisconsin—stands with President Obama.
"We are very supportive of the President," says Thomas. "We are the middle class and the lower class, and what the President has done for the last four years has greatly benefited the community. We need him to continue."
Like so many others we've met on the Gotta Vote bus, Lee says the Affordable Care Act has had a major impact on his family. "I have three kids who have graduated from high school and went on to college, and now my health insurance does cover my children. That has been very good for my family."
So Lee has been doing his part to get out the vote across the state, educating Hmong Americans about voter registration and early voting and recruiting members of the community to volunteer at the local field office—whatever it takes for Wisconsin to be blue on November 6.
The Gotta Vote bus tour rolled into Green Bay, Wisconsin, this morning with a special guest: Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Biden. With 27 days left till Election Day, Biden joined union members, students, retirees, and volunteers to stand up against a Republican ticket that wants to divide America.
"Behind me are those 47 percent that Romney talked about," says Biden. "Let me tell you something. The disabled vet I met in Marshalltown, Iowa, the disabled vets in this district, they don't view themselves as victims. They would return to their unit if they could. My grandmother, she didn't view herself as entitled to anything. She paid into the system and she earned her Medicare and Social Security. Moms, dads, working two, three, four jobs to put dinner on the table and provide for their families? They don't view themselves as irresponsible. They are responsible. They are the middle class."
President Obama and Vice President Biden get that, he says. They're working to build the economy from the middle class out, creating more than 5.2 million jobs and helping put our veterans to work when they come home. That's something that hits home for Biden, a member of the Delaware National Guard who served his country in Iraq. He says that when it comes to taking care of his fellow veterans, Ryan and the Democratic candidates have a fundamentally different view—and the proof is in the budget.
"My father always said, don't tell me your priorities," says Biden. "Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what your priorities are. Well, let's look at Mr. Ryan's budget. If you believe his math, he would cut 20 percent from the VA. That would amount to an $11 billion cut that would've gone to health care for veterans—22 million veterans nationally.
"We have been a generation at war for a decade. What is Mr. Ryan's priority? In 2002 and 2003, while Americans were going off to war, he was voting for a tax break for the wealthiest Americans that no one wanted or needed that blew up our budget. In 2012, he wants to do the very same thing. He has a fundamentally different set of values than my father and the President have. He's more concerned with giving the .1 percent a tax break than he is looking out for those of us who have served in Iraq and and are veterans."
If you'd rather take care of our veterans than give millionaires and billionaires another tax cut, then you gotta vote. You can still register to vote in Wisconsin and in many states across the country. Find everything you need to know about voting at www.gottavote.com.
Tracee Ellis Ross has been in movies and on TV for years—but hitting the campaign trail reminds her of how she felt when she first started auditioning for acting roles: nervous. Even though campaigning gives her jitters, Ross believes that it's so important to do whatever she can to help President Obama get re-elected. So today, she flew out to Ohio to energize college students and African American voters as "one of millions of volunteers."
There's too much at stake to sit on the sidelines, she says. "I care about my community. I care about human rights, civil rights, women's rights. And when it comes to women's rights, there's no question: President Obama was raised by a powerful women, married a powerful woman, and is raising two powerful women. He gets women's issues." She cites President Obama's support for equal pay, the first bill he signed into law as president. "Mitt Romney refused to support equal pay, and Paul Ryan actually voted against it."
She says one thing in this election is certain: President Obama's the only candidate with a plan to keep us moving forward. We've come too far on the road to recovery to turn back—and that hits closer to home than you might think.
"My best friend is a mother of three with three jobs," says Ross. "She and her husband are still struggling to make ends meet. One of her jobs does not pay a ton, but it has health care for her family. There are families like hers across the country and here in Ohio with similar stories. So I have to ask you—we have to ask ourselves: Who truly cares about creating opportunities for you? Barack Obama."
At stops at Ohio State and Wright State, campaign offices, and outside a Dayton beauty shop, Ross's message was the same: You gotta vote.
"Voting is one of the ways I know I'm alive—one of the ways I know that I matter. I remind myself that I am enough to make a difference. No matter where I come from or who I am, my voice makes a difference. I hear from people, 'Oh, Mitt Romney has no chance.' Well, if you think that, he might. We have got to do our part because it's going to be close. Do you want to wake up November 7 wondering, 'What if I had done a little more?' Let's make sure we wake up joyous , not regretful."
President Obama calls small businesses the backbone of our economy, and he's made good on his word: The Obama administration has helped more than 5,000 African American business owners secure more than $1.5 billion in Small Business Administration loans. Under President Obama's watch, minorities who want to start their own business have had greater access to the tools and resources they need to do so.
Keitha is an example. In July, she opened the doors to My Own Soul, a restaurant in Toledo that serves local food, made to order. Business is good, she says, and it's only picking up as our economy continues to recover.
"I think that Obama has to stay in business," she says. "He's paved the way for small-business owners like myself—all the money that he's put into different grants and tax cuts. If he stays in office, it'll only get better, for me and for the generations after me who want to be business owners and entrepreneurs. Mitt Romney, I don't think he's for small business at all‹or entrepreneurship, finding a way for people who are coming from nothing to try to make something."
She's doing her part to make sure the Obama administration does stay in business. Along with soul food, she hands out voter registration forms to her customers. To date, she's registered 1,013 new voters in Toledo, and she's urging everyone to make their voices heard by voting in this election.
"We gotta get out," she says, "and we gotta vote."
Despite fierce Republican opposition—including from the current Republican nominee for president—President Obama lent a hand to an American auto industry in crisis and saved nearly 1 million good, American jobs up and down the supply chain. It was an important step on our road to recovery. We were once shedding 800,000 jobs a month, but today, we've seen 31 consecutive months of job growth and 5.2 million new private-sector jobs. Manufacturing jobs are being created at rates we haven't seen since the 1990s.
President Obama's decision to save the auto industry, says Senator Sherrod Brown, makes the choice for Ohio clear.
"Let me tell you what the auto rescue means," he tells supporters at today's Gotta Vote bus stop in Ashland, Ohio. "You know what it means, because you live in north-central Ohio. The story of the Chevy Cruze is in many ways the story of Ohio. The engine was made in Defiance. The transmission came out of Toledo. The seat frames come out of Lorain. The steel comes out of Middletown. The sound system comes out of Springboro. The brackets come out of Brunswick. The stamping's done in Parma. The seats come from Warren. And 4,500 UAW workers put it together in Youngstown.
"We know if we're going to rebuild the middle class, it means manufacturing, it means good union jobs, it means good jobs for the middle class. And that's really what this election is about."
But, as Senator Brown points out, we can't rebuild the middle class if we don't vote: "You have the advantage, because one of the great things about living in Ohio is that we all, frankly, get to choose the next president of the United States. We get to choose which party's going to control the United States Senate. You have it in your hands, as activists and people who care—people who are fighting for the next four weeks. You can make a huge difference."
You can make a difference no matter which state you live in—but first, you gotta register to vote.
In a sea of campaign buttons at a canvass kickoff at the OFA office in Twinsburg, Ohio, one button stands out: Republicans for Obama.
Its owner, Bill, a retired teacher from Macedonia, Ohio, says he no longer recognizes the Republican Party he's affiliated with his entire life. "The Republican Party, which I have been a member of for about 60 years, has been hijacked by the far right wing, and I don't agree with it. I think we have to be more centrist, I think we have to look at both sides of things, I think we have to compromise. And my Republican Party is not willing to do that."
So he crossed party lines and cast a ballot for Barack Obama in 2008—and he did it again this year when he cast his early ballot. That's not all. He's putting his money where his mouth is. Today, Bill stopped by the kickoff to drop off a donation for the only candidate in this race who shares his values.
"President Obama actually has a lot of the values that I have. I worked with children all my life. He's in favor of things that help kids. I worked with poor people all my life. He's working to help poor people—he's not willing to write them off. I know a lot of people who struggled to work their way up and did so. He just embodied a lot of things I believe in."
Olivia Munn can name a lot of personal reasons why she supports President Obama—the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," support for military families—but what motivates her the most is what's at stake for women in this election if Mitt Romney becomes president. "He thinks women aren't capable of making choices over their own bodies," she says. "That is very scary to me. Ask yourself: How does that affect you? How does that affect your girlfriend? Your mother? Because if you believe in an America where women can make their own choices about their own bodies, then you gotta vote."
So today, she hopped on the Gotta Vote bus in Ohio to fire up college students who've seen her on The Newsroom or The Daily Show—and make sure they vote. At each stop, she asked students point-blank if they were registered to vote. If the answer was yes, she passed out high-fives. If the answer was no, she asked why not—and urged them to get it done. "Every single vote matters, especially here in Ohio," Munn says. "You have this power as young people. We get to decide how our world is going to be. We don't have to wait for everyone else who's been telling us what to do with our lives. We have to get out there and vote."
And to make sure her high-fives were not in vain, Munn led the students on a march across campus to cast their ballots—for many, their very first presidential ballots—for Barack Obama.
Are you registered to vote? Don't let Olivia Munn down.