It took Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama only a matter of moments to show that he is well-versed in all things Wolf Pack Tuesday during his 37-minute address to an overflow crowd of 12,000 on the University of Nevada, Reno Quadrangle.
“What a spectacular day here in Nevada,” he said. “What a beautiful day here in Reno.”
Obama seemed to know that the sun always shines a little brighter in northern Nevada in the days following a Wolf Pack football victory over rival UNLV. Of course, Nevada defeated UNLV on Saturday in Las Vegas, 49-27.
In thanking those he had met and those who had introduced him, Obama singled out University President Milt Glick and head football coach Chris Ault.
“Chris Ault, UNR football coach … congratulations Wolf Pack on a big win,” Obama said, drawing a hearty roar from the crowd, which numbered into the thousands. The crowd arrived hours in advance of Obama’s 10 a.m. speech, with the line snaking well north of the Quad past the Joe Crowley Student Union and up the hill to Legacy Hall.
Many of the crowd were students, a fact not lost on Obama.
“I especially want to thank all of the young people here today,” Obama said. “For this next generation, it’s a defining moment.”
He added, drawing even louder cheering than his Wolf Pack victory comment, “To see so many young people get so involved … You are not bystanders to history, you are shapers of history … and that gets me excited.”
Obama’s speech focused on the economy, and in particular zeroed in on Monday’s failure of Congress to pass what he called the financial “rescue” bill of $700 billion to help stabilize the erratic American economy.
He admitted that the current bill wasn’t perfect, but that action in solving the nation’s economic ills must be swift. Without some sort of congressional action, he said, Americans’ ability to get new home loans, as well as the creation of new jobs and efforts to pull the country out of a possible recession could be at risk.
“All of us have a responsibility to solve this crisis,” he said. “Now is the moment for us to put the fire out.”
He said that many students were probably wondering what kind of impact the current financial crisis would have on them.
“I know it’s especially frustrating for young people because you don’t have any money,” he said. He smiled for a moment. “I know what it’s like … eating pizza every night.”
More seriously, he added, waving his hands at the many students in the crowd, “If we don’t deal with this now, your prospects of finding a home or raising a family, it will all be affected, too.”
Obama, who throughout his speech did not mention his opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain, said Tuesday remarks were not about assaying blame. He urged the crowd to put partisan differences aside and to work to solve the crisis together.
“It’s not a time to take credit or where to lay blame,” he said. “This is a time to help the country that we all love. This is a time for action.”
Obama drew a good laugh from the audience when he mentioned that he had been on the phone earlier Tuesday morning with President George W. Bush as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. After mentioning Reid’s name, Obama took a moment to smile broadly: “Oh yeah … I forgot. (Reid) happens to come from Nevada.”
Obama closed his speech by invoking the memory of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose series of “Fireside Chats” on the radio in the wake of the Great Depression helped soothe Americans’ fears as the economy struggled to right itself.
Obama noted that in times of economic trouble, as FDR had said, the greatest resource that Americans have at their disposal is “the confidence of the people themselves.”