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.
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