The chairman of the Democratic National Convention is defending President Obama’s economic record. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke to a gathering of Iowa convention delegates this morning.
“I was asked this morning…’Are we better off than we were four years ago?’ and I looked them straight in the eye and I said, ‘Yes!” Villaraigosa said. “…What did President Obama do? He stopped the hemorrhaging.”
Villaraigosa is a third generation American of Mexican descent who worked in California as a “community organizer” in the 1960’s, serving as an advocate for migrant workers. According to Villaraigosa, President Obama’s lack of private sector experience and background as a community organizer is not a liability, as Republicans charge.
“I think the president should be acknowledged for the values that being a community organizer represent,” Villaraigosa told Radio Iowa in an interview. “…You’re doing it because you believe and if they’re criticizing the idealism that drives a community organizer, the sense of the possible, his commitment to empowering others, well so be it, but I just don’t agree.”
Villaraigosa will serve as the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, joining a long list of politicians like Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden who’ve used the event to connect with Iowa activists. Speaking with reporters this morning, Villaraigosa deflected questions about his own presidential aspirations.
“Looking to finish my job the way I started, with a bang,” Villaraigosa said. “I’m working ’til 11:59:59 on June 30 and then I’m riding into the sunset for a while…I think it’s time for a little reflection and that’s what I’m looking to do.” V
Villaraigosa rose through the ranks of the California Assembly to become speaker, then he turned to city politics, serving as an L.A. city councilman before he became mayor of the nation’s second-largest city. Villaraigosa, as the convention’s chairman, is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention, but he was worried today about losing his voice. The mayor was a bit hoarse when he spoke with Iowans this morning and you can listen to his remarks here.