At the opening of the Obama campaign office in Martinsville on Wednesday night, former state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds praised President Barack Obama’s achievements, and former state Del. Ward Armstrong attacked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Both Reynolds, D-Ridgeway, and Armstrong, D-Collinsville, criticized Republican naysayers in the U.S. House.
More than 80 people attended the reception. The headquarters is uptown at 33 E. Main St., Suites A and B.
Reynolds said that four years ago, this nation had serious problems. There were incredible job losses, the stock market was below 9,000, and the country was borrowing money to pay for two wars, he said
“People were honestly scared about the future of this country,” he said.
“Things are not where we want them to be” now, but dramatic improvements have been made under Obama, Reynolds said, adding there are more jobs now, manufacturing has increased, health care was reformed and the stock market has recovered.
An Obama campaign brochure says: “When President Obama took office ... the economy was losing jobs at a rate of more than 750,000 a month. By the time the president took the oath, more than 4 million jobs had disappeared. We’ve added 4.3 million private sector jobs over 27 consecutive months, and the economy is on track to continue growing. The American auto industry is back on top. American manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.”
Reynolds said Republicans today are advocating free market policies “that led to this mess four years ago.”
He predicted the election will be close in Virginia. He urged Obama supporters to tell friends and neighbors about Obama’s accomplishments and the “mess” four years ago.
“The president has done a great job, at a time when Republican leadership has said no” consistently, Reynolds said.
He criticized U.S. House Republicans for, he said, voting dozens of times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — Obama’s health care reform — even though many parts of the legislation stemmed from suggestions and principles Republicans had advocated for years and continue to advocate. He said the Republicans are casting their no votes to make people think they are accomplishing something when they are not.
Anthony Flaccavento, Democratic candidate for U.S. 9th District representative, and John Douglass, Democratic candidate for U.S. 5th District representative, “will not be ones who say no, no, no, vote to repeal health care,” Reynolds said.
Flaccavento, of Abingdon, is challenging U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, and Douglass, of Fauquier County, is challenging U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham.
Armstrong, former minority leader of the House of Delegates, said he has been in politics more than 30 years and has never seen it as polarized as now. He called the U.S. House of Representatives dysfunctional and said, “It’s got to stop.”
In the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, he said, voters need to elect candidates who are more concerned about jobs in Virginia and the U.S. than overseas. He accused Romney of having sent jobs overseas.
The Associated Press recently reported that an Obama ad claimed that Bain Capital, a private equity firm Romney founded in 1984, shipped American jobs to China and Mexico, and that as Massachusetts governor, he sent state jobs to India.
Armstrong also claimed that Bain Capital dismantled companies and eliminated jobs “to make a buck.”
And Armstrong criticized Romney for declining to release all his tax returns.
“What do you not want us to see?” Armstrong asked.
Armstrong also asked people to vote for former governor Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate. “Everybody knows Tim Kaine,” from his time as governor and lieutenant governor. Armstrong praised Kaine as governor for reaching out to both major parties; implementing a ban on smoking in many of the state’s restaurants; and governing during difficult budgetary times.
Flaccavento and Douglass have said they will not be partisan hacks for the party’s leaders, Armstrong said. “Isn’t it time for a refreshing approach (to move the country forward)?” he asked.
“We could have done a better job in turning people out (in 2010). We can’t let that happen again,” he added.
Longtime 9th District U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher and first-term 5th District U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, both Democrats, were defeated by Griffith and Hurt, respectively, in 2010.
Marshall Derks, field organizer for the Obama campaign, urged volunteers to knock on doors and tell people how health care reform and economic and other achievements under Obama help them. He told of one person who changed from Romney-leaning to Obama-leaning after hearing that.
Obama volunteer Lois Harris of Martinsville was wearing a shirt with a picture of the Obama family and six Obama buttons. She carried a hand fan with a cut-out of Obama’s head, which she got when she went to Obama’s presidential inauguration. She said she feels “great, excited, ecstatic” about the opening of the Obama office, one of 20 in Virginia.
Volunteer Mildred Thompson of Collinsville said, among other things, in an interview, “The economy was in bad shape, and he (Obama) helped turn the economy around.”
Obama volunteer Nancy Hall of Martinsville said, “I believe in his vision for the country and his fight for the middle class. Health care (reform) is something we needed for a long time. I believe in the president.”
The office will serve as a hub for campaign activities in Henry County and Martinsville, including phone banking, canvassing and voter registration. It is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call (434) 203-7528.