Total Pageviews

Monday, November 5, 2012

In Campaign\'s Closing Days, Obama Lays Claim to the Mantle of Change

President Obama walks on stage during a campaign event at Community College of Aurora at Lowry, in Colorado.Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama walks on stage during a campaign event at Community College of Aurora at Lowry, in Colorado.

AURORA, Colo. â€" It was 1 a.m. on the East Coast by the time President Obama took the stage at a nighttime rally at a community college in this suburb of Denver. But Mr. Obama still seemed tickled when the audience played along with one of his favorite riffs: that Mitt Romney's claim to be an agent of change is hollow.

“We know what change looks like,” the president said, before ticking off all of Mr. Romney's traits that he said did not meet the definition. With each charge â€" not sharing the details of his proposals, recycling discredited Republican policies, rubber-stamping the agenda of the Tea Party â€" the crowd chanted “Not change!”

“You guys get the idea,” Mr. Obama said with the chuckle, after several rounds of call-and-response. “Not change.”

A few minutes later, when the president had moved on to another theme, a woman shouted “chump change!”

“You missed the cue on that one,” Mr. Obama chided with a smile.

It is appropriate in the closing moments of his campaign that the president is laying claim to the mantle of change â€" a theme he elaborated to soaring effect in 2008, but which fell by the wayside in a first term where the idealism of an insurgent gave way to the pragmatism and political calculation of an incumbent.

But Mr. Obama still aspires to the post-partisan ideal he sketched out in 2008. “We are not Democrats or Republicans first,” he said to the 20,00 0 people who had gathered under a moonless sky. “We're Americans first.”

As Mr. Obama's stump speech has been drafted and redrafted, his aides say it has moved closer to the themes he articulated in his first run. On Sunday night in Colorado, at the end of a 16-hour day that covered New Hampshire, Florida and Ohio â€" and a day before he faces the verdict of the voters â€" it seemed as if a circle was closing.