MADISON (WKOW) -- An estimated 30,000 people converged on Bascom Hill at UW-Madison Thursday to see the President of the United States.
Barack Obama brought a populist message to town as he hopes to wrap up Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes.
Needing to rebound from a shaky debate performance in Denver on Wednesday night, the President seemed rejuvenated here in front of a very large and enthusiastic crowd.
President Obama spent the first part of his twenty minute speech talking about how he must have been debating a Mitt Romney impersonator the night before.
"The real Mitt Romney's been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy and yet, the fellow on the stage last night...who looked like Mitt Romney...said he did not know anything about that," said President Obama.
He even had fun with the Republican challenger's debate comments about how he would cut the deficit by defunding public television.
"He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's gonna crack down on Sesame Street. Thank goodness someone's finally cracking down on Big Bird," said President Obama.
But it wasn't all jokes, as the President also honed in on his familiar message of growing a strong middle class.
"This country doesn't only succeed when only the rich get richer," said President Obama. "We succeed when everybody has a shot, when the middle class is getting bigger, when there are ladders of opportunity into the middle class."
It was a message that seemed to resonate with supporters.
"I love how he talked about giving Americans opportunities and that's what America's about," said Angela Junga of Madison.
"I think this is a President that needs to stay in there, he needs the cooperation of Congress, stop stonewalling him every time he tries to move on something and let's get this country going," said supporter Greg Leckwee.
One thing that President Obama has going for him in Wisconsin that he doesn't in a few other battleground states is a cushion.
He is leading by an average of eight points in the recent polls here.
MADISON (WKOW) -- President Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Madison Thursday, where he spoke to a large and receptive crowd on Bascom Hill on the UW-Madison campus.
The president likely needed some enthusiastic young people to fire him up after his shaky debate performance Wednesday night and he got that here.
An estimated 30,000 people, mostly students, stood in line for up to four hours and then waited for the president inside the gates for more than three hours as rain showers came and went.
Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) helped warm up the crowd for the president, who was greeted by a raucous welcome when he took the stage at about 3:40 p.m.
President Obama immediately talked about Wednesday night's debate, but not his performance. Instead he focused on what he called the real Mitt Romney, who Obama says is not the same guy who was on stage in Denver Wednesday night.
"When I got on the stage I met this spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But I know it couldn't have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney's been running around the country for the last year, promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy, but the fellow on the stage last night, who looked like Mitt Romney, said he did not know anything about that," said Obama.
The president's own message was a very populist one, focusing on growing the economy out from the middle class, helping students pay less for college tuition, as well as sustaining Medicare and Social Security.
Obama also played on Mitt Romney's reference to Big Bird in Wednesday night's debate. Romney made the comment after saying he'd cut federal funding to PBS.
"I just want to make sure I've got this straight. He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's going to crack down on Sesame Street. Thank goodness somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird," Obama said.
After his speech, Obama shook hands with members of the crowd and met behind closed doors with the UW men's basketball team. He left on Air Force One about two and a half hours after arriving in Madison.
The UW Police Department estimates about 6,000 people were not admitted because of capacity issues. Officers say no one was arrested.
MADISON (WKOW) -- President Barack Obama will make a visit to Madison today. He hopes to increase his lead in Wisconsin.
He's up 11 points in the latest Marquette Law School poll out Wednesday. His visit on Thursday is expected to bring out thousands of people and this means a lot of preparation has been underway. Construction on Bascom Hill has been underway for days.
President Obama visited campus in 2010. Officials estimate nearly 20,000 people were on Bascom Hill for that appearance.
The President is expected to urge his supporters to vote early. He won Wisconsin by 14 points in 2008, an easy win in a state where 1-in-5 ballots came in before Election Day.
In-person early voting begins October 22 and absentee ballots started going out to Wisconsin voters who requested them at the end of September. Those ballots must be post-marked by Election Day. In-person early voting ends the Friday before the election, set for November 2.
Despite the President's lead seemingly growing in polls of Wisconsin voters taken over the last month, Republicans and Romney supporters says the President's second trip to Wisconsin in a month is an indication of how well Romney and Ryan are doing in the state.
There will be traffic delays on Thursday because of President Obama's visit. According to the Madison Police Department, roads along the motorcade route from the Dane County Regional Airport to UW-Madison's campus will be closed. The specific route has not been released.
But, North Park Street between University Avenue and Langdon Street will be closed starting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. It will remain closed until after the event.
Click here for more information about road closures.
27 News will have updates for you throughout the day at WKOW.com and at 5, 6 and 10 about President Obama's visit to Madison.
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