President Barack Obama gave a 38-minute speech in Cedar Rapids today, in which he focused on his middle class upbringing, his call to Congress to end Bush era tax cuts for wealthy Americans and called out Congressional Republicans and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Romney wants a top-down approach to economic recovery, while Obama wants to grow from the middle out, the president said.
"We don't need more top-down economics. We need someone who will help the middle class grow," he said.
Obama wants to extend tax cuts for those who earn less than $250,000 a year, while the cuts should expire for "people like me, for the top 2 percent of Americans," he said.
Officials said 1,600 people packed into Johnson Hall at Kirkwood Community College, and another 500 were in overflow area. The crowd responded raucously at many points in his speech, with members shouting and screaming their disagreement with Republicans and their support for Obama.
“I love you,” screamed female crowd member.
“I love you back,” Obama said, without a pause.
In another lighter moment, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator was on hand. Obama noticed him in the crowd.
"Abraham Lincoln is in the house. My homeboy from Illinois and an outstanding Republican endorsee," he called to him.
Obama acknowledged that he expects "this is going to be a close election," and made it clear he is counting on Iowa again in 2012. While it only carries six electoral votes, it is seen as one of a handful of key battleground states for both Romney and Obama.
While all the negativity surrounding campaigns might cause people to lose inerest in the election, Obama said he is betting Iowans will stay focused on the bigger picture.
"I’m betting you’re going to be as fired up as you were in 2008," Obama said.
President Barack Obama is campaigning in Iowa today, a place he said "gave me a chance."
"This is a state that gave me a chance when no one else would,” Obama said on a community college campus in Cedar Rapids.
Obama just began speaking at Johnson Hall. A pro-Obama crowd of more than 1,000 people packed the hall.
During the visit, the president intends to outline what a news release called a plan to "build an economy that is built from the middle class out."
"What is holding us back from making more progress then we've made is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views about what path we should take in the country," he said. "This election is about breaking this stalemate."
The appearance comes after pressuring Congress to extend a portion of the George W. Bush era tax cuts. He hopes to extend the tax breaks for households with less than $250,000 in income, but said he will veto any legislation that contains the full set of cuts.
"My opponent, his allies in Congress, they sincerely believe that prosperity comes from the top down. They believe if we spent trillions of dollars more on on tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, that it will somehow create more jobs," Obama said.
"I think they are wrong," he said.
"We tried it their way for most of the last decade and it didn't work," he said
This is his second visit to Cedar Rapids this year and his fourth visit to Iowa. That is on top of a combined five Iowa stops by First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
University of Iowa Political Science Associate Professor Tim Hagle told the Sioux City Journal the president has been making frequent visits this year because a change in political landscape calls his re-election prospects in question.
That sentiment was echoed yesterday by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, who said in a news conference that Obama’s visit to Cedar Rapids and Iowa was planned "because he knows that he’s in trouble in Iowa," according to a story from the Des Moines Register.
Numbers from the Secretary of State’s office confirm an added challenge for Obama.
There are now 619,452 registered Republican voters in Iowa - an increase in registered Republicans - compared to 598,074 Democrats.
However, Obama is performing well in the 12 swing states, including Iowa, leading Romney 47 to 45 percent, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll. That same poll finds Obama with a 1 percent gain when the nation as a whole is considered.