barack-obama-at-central-high.jpgWEST PALM BEACH – With the sounds of R&B crooner Al Green’s classic Let’s Stay Together filling the Palm Beach Convention Center, thousands of supporters gave President Barack Obama a rousing welcome as he made a campaign stop Sunday in the battleground state.

The crowd started singing as they waited to hear Obama make his case for re-election, touting achievements such as the Affordable Care Act, tax cuts for the middle-class and tuition and loan breaks for college students.

As a small group of anti-Obama protesters picked outside, Obama told the audience of about 6,000 that they seemed “fired up” as they chanted, “Four more years. Four more years…,” during the event in downtown West Palm Beach. “We spent the last three and a half years trying to recover from all the damage that was done,” he said.

“We made progress but not enough.  We’ve got more to do.”  

“We need to move forward in the right direction.  Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met,” Obama said.

“The path I offer is harder but it leads to a better place.  I’m asking you to choose that future.”

Polls indicate Obama is in a tight race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, though the incumbent appears to be enjoying an increase in support following the Democratic National Convention held Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte, N.C., where he was formally nominated for a second term.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio told the gathering there was much at stake in the November presidential election, especially for women.

“President Obama has been working tirelessly for the last four years to put Americans back to work,” Muoio said, adding, “There is more work to do and that’s why we have to put him back in the White House.”

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida,  said Florida will decide the outcome of the race.

“Political pundits will tell you that Florida with its 29 electoral votes… if the president wins Florida, that’s the election,” Nelson said.
“You see what you have the opportunity to do.  In a race that seems to be close as in Florida, that extra effort that you make talking to your friends and neighbors (can make the difference).”

Obama supporter Julene Poole said although the president has faced many obstacles during his first term in office, he continues to make good decisions for the people who really need the help.

“I know he’s been hindered in many areas during his first term,” Poole said. “If given four more years, he’ll be able to do more to help all people with education, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.”

Poole’s daughter, Phoebe, 15, a student at Forest Hill High School in West Palm Beach, said the president will make positive changes in education.

“I know Barack Obama can help with our education. Being a teenager, I feel that education is an important part of everybody’s life right now,” Phoebe said. “We need a president who is focused on education and young people.”

Teen reporter Damon Weaver, 14, who at age 11 became the youngest journalist to interview the president, agreed that Obama should focus on education.

“He had a lot to work on and I think he got a lot of things done but has a lot more to do,” Damon said. “Maybe if he gets re-elected he’ll be able to accomplish it.”