Quincy, IL – People started lining up outside the Oakley-Lindsey Center, late Tuesday evening, to get a ticket for President Obama's speech Wednesday afternoon. Secret Service estimated the crowd, which included elected leaders from the local and state level, at about 2,300.
The crowd started filing in about 1:00 P.M. on Wednesday anticipating the 4:05 P.M. speech. President Obama surprised the crowd by showing up early from his tour of Northeast Missouri and jumped on the stage about 3:45 P.M.
The President used the first half of his 30 minute speech to talk about his time in Quincy filling sandbags and to talk about how his administration is working to bring the country back from a historic financial crisis.
"We took these steps to get America back on its feet," said the President, "we aimed tax relief right at the middle class, the cornerstone of the American Dream. We made sure that we cut taxes for 95% of working families to put money in their pockets because they were experiencing hard times."
President Obama also pointed to tax cuts for small businesses, for first-time home-buyers, and for college students. He also spoke about the impact of extending unemployment benefits for so many Americans.
"But, keep in mind, I didn't run for President just to get back to where we were when we started," said the President, "I want us to do better than we were doing. I want folks to have more opportunity. I want people to have more and better jobs. And I want our young people to be getting better educations and more access to college."
President Obama says that is why his administration has made major investments in clean energy, revamped the student loan system, and passed health care reform. After touting recent accomplishments the President shifted his focus to Wall Street.
"Now speaking of you getting a fair shake," says the President, "that's why we need good old common-sense Wall Street reform. And we need it today. We don't need it next year. We don't need to do another study to examine it. We need it now."
President Obama told the crowd that Wall Street contributed directly to the financial crisis because some people took unbelievable risks with other people's money.
"They failed to consider that behind every dollar that they traded, all that leverage they were generating, acting like it was Monopoly money," says the President, "there were real families out there who were trying to finance a home, pay for their child's college, open a business, or save for retirement. So what's working fine for them wasn't working for ordinary Americans. And we've learned that clearly. It doesn't work out fine for the country. It's got to change."
President Obama says he believes in the free market and in a strong financial system. But he says the firms on Wall Street must operate in a way that is fair, honest, and in the open.
President Obama says that is why his administration is pushing for four key reform points.
"These are the reforms that we are putting forward," says the President, "Accountability, which means no more bailouts. Closing loopholes, no more trading of things like derivatives in the shadows. Consumer protections, no more deceptive products. A say in pay, so we give shareholders a more powerful voice. That's what we are trying to do."
President Obama says this should not be a partisan issue. He says that is why he is pleased that an agreement has been reached to allow his Wall Street reform package to be debated on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
The President used the final minute of his speech to fire-up the crowd. He did not take any questions.
The President did acknowledge supporters on his way out of the Oakley-Lindsey Center before heading to the airport. Air Force One took off at about 5:15 P.M.
You can hear President Barack Obama's speech in Quincy by clicking the audio link above.