Why did Obama visit a mom in Nebraska?

President Obama used a year-old email from a Nebraska mother to jumpstart his legacy campaign tour. 

Francis Gardler/The Journal-Star via AP
President Barack Obama, left, visits with Lisa and Jeff Martin, holding son Cooper, in their home after arriving at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. Obama opened his two-day trip in the living room of Lisa Martin, a high school English teacher and mother of a 1-year-old son. She wrote to him a year ago to express concern about the America her son will grow up in. The White House released a copy of the letter.

Nebraskan mom and high school English teacher Lisa Martin woke up at four a.m. and penned a letter to President Barack Obama.

“I am sure this email will never reach you, but in this moment, I decided reaching out to the one man that can do something would make me feel some sort of solace,” she wrote. “Listening to my son breathing next to me gave me a feeling of urgency.”

She tells President Obama her fears, describing how she worries about her son Cooper’s future amid a world with issues as serious as human-induced climate change. The president was so moved by Martin’s letter than he traveled to Nebraska to meet Lisa and her family Wednesday – one year after Martin wrote the letter.

Obama’s response to the Nebraskan mother is delayed, but the President has two reasons to respond now: It benefits both his party and his own executive legacy. And with bipartisan cooperation a main focus of his State of the Union address Tuesday, these two goals are not mutually exclusive.

“The future is bright, he told her and by extension the country, but that requires the nation to follow his policy prescriptions,” reports The New York Times. A policy continuation that likely requires Democratic leadership in the White House. 

After spending about 40 minutes in Lisa’s living room Wednesday, Obama gave a speech to an 11,000-person crowd at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Almost 60 percent of Nebraska voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election, and almost 57 percent in 2008. In Obama's words, he got "whupped" in the state during his own elections. But the president spoke to cheering crowds holding 'OBAMAHA' signs, countering GOP promises to fix a broken country. 

Nebraska is right next door to Iowa, the first state to vote (on Feb. 1) in the presidential primaries. 

“I don’t know if the TV ads drift over here, but they’re kind of depressing,” Obama told the audience referencing a number of campaign ads by GOP candidates. “I liked talking about hope and all the good stuff that was going on. And then you look at some of these ads, and it’s some doom and some gloom.”

Obama said prosperity in America is stronger than what’s described by “a bunch of folks right across the river,” jabbing GOP candidates for focusing on early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire instead of other states like Nebraska. Republicans are promising to “solve challenges just by looking meaner and talking tougher or carpet bombing wherever we want.” 

After his speech in Omaha, Obama continued his red state tour by traveling to Baton Rouge, La., where he will give a speech Thursday at McKinley High School. About 58 percent of Louisiana voted Republican during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. 

While neither state voted for Obama during his own presidential campaigns, he still used Martin’s e-mail to jumpstart his post-State of the Union tour. The White House website says Martin’s letter is a perfect reinforcement of Obama’s message Tuesday. 

“Americans like Lisa are exactly who President Obama was talking about last night in his address when he said: ‘Our collective futures depend on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.’” 

Obama told Martin and the University of Nebraska audience that they have no reason to fear for America’s future – as long as his legacy is upheld.

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