(Listen to the entire address here)
President Barack Obama swooped in to the Asheville Regional Airport, Oct. 17, praising the town and delivering a combative speech to hundreds of supporters gathered on the tarmac to greet him as he kicked off a bus tour of North Carolina and Virginia.
Throughout the 20-minute address, he lambasted Republican lawmakers for failing to pass the American Jobs Act, describing the local airport as an example of a facility that would get much-needed infrastructure improvements under the plan.
“In this airport, right here in Asheville, you’ve got a runway that needs to be widened and repaired. You’ve got a taxiway that’s in the wrong spot, which means that planes sometimes get too close together. So we could be doing some work right here at the Asheville Airport that would help boost tourism, help to boost the economy here, put people to work right now!” he said to applause. “But it’s not just here in Asheville. It’s all across the state. You’ve got highways that need to be built, bridges that need to be fixed, schools that need to be modernized. And that’s what America used to do best. We used to build things.”
“Our family has great memories of staying here. And it’s always nice to get out of Washington and breathe some of that mountain air,” he said. “I love Asheville. In fact, I think I should be on the tourism and promotion bureau of Asheville. Every time, I meet someone, I say ‘have you guys gone down to Asheville? That’s a nice place to be.’ It is wonderful to be back in one of my favorite parts of the country.”
In addition, he commended Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, calling Hagan “one of the outstanding Senators in the U.S. Senate” and describing Bellamy as “lovely and intelligent.”
“The last time I was here Terry said she could play basketball. It turned out she was a cheerleader and not a basketball player,” he joked. “She’s doing an outstanding job overall.”
After the address, Obama boarded a fortified black bus and made his way to West Wilkes High School in Wilkes County to deliver another speech on his jobs plan. Along the way, he stopped by Countryside Barbecue near Marion for lunch. He plans to spend the night in Greensboro, N.C., according to his press office.
Listen to our podcast for more observations from the Asheville Speech:
Podcast hosted by News Editor Margaret Williams. Podcast produced by Steve Shanafelt. The theme music is “Jam Band Spy Song” by E. Lee.
Photos from the event by Jonathan Welch