In the hours following President Barack Obama’s first address to Congress, local opinions ranged from optimism in the face of tough times to wondering how the president plans to keep all of his promises.
Portales resident Sandra Robinson shed tears during Obama’s hour-long address.
“I thought it was so uplifting and encouraging,” Robinson said following Obama’s speech. “The way he reacts to people and the compassion he has ... I just love him.”
Robinson also thinks Obama adequately explained his $787 billion stimulus package.
“I thought he explained it real well,” Robinson said. “He’s really genuine.”
Rube Render, chairman of the Curry County Republican Party, isn't so optimistic about the spending Obama envisions for government healthcare and financial bailouts.
“Obama’s one of the great speakers in the political world, currently, and over the years, he peaks right out as one of the top five political speakers I’ve ever heard,” Render said. “However, when he lays out everything that he’s done up to this point with the stimulus package, with helping the banks get bailed out, bailing out people with finances, and all the things he put on top of that ... I don’t see how you can get there from here if he says he’s going to halve the deficit in his first term.”
Render said the basic difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans think the solution lies in people and Democrats think government is the solution. He envisions that difference will be shown in wasteful spending.
“We’re talking about more money than has ever been spent,” Render said.
Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield felt Obama’s message of letting the stimulus rebuild from a bottom-up level — starting with projects like replacement of the Hull Street Overpass — was welcome news.
“I liked it from a local standpoint (considering) how much we need,” Brumfield said. “(The Hull Street overpass) would be an example of something that could be helped by the stimulus.
Brumfield, a Realtor, said Obama was clear about the roles that banking and housing play in the economy and the need to keep them solvent.
“Clovis has been kind of insulated,” Brumfield said, “but nationally, it’s been really tough.”
Former Roosevelt County Republican chairman Matt Rush said Obama still has some explaining to do.
“He’s still got a long way to go to sell me on the stimulus plan,” Rush said. “It hasn’t worked in the past. Just pouring money into the economy hasn’t ever changed it before and I don’t see it happening this time either.”
But Rush says, for the good of the country, he wants to see Obama’s plan succeed.
“I’m hopeful that it does turn things around, because we need it to.”
— Freedom New Mexico Staff Writer Mickey Winfield contributed to this report.