President Obama campaigns in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Nati Harnik / Associated…)
President Obama took Iowans on a trip down memory lane Tuesday, recalling his first “kinda nervous” foray on the presidential campaign trail in their state four years ago.
“This is a state that gave me a chance when nobody else would,” Obama told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, recalling his initial campaign appearance in Waterloo, Iowa, as he appealed for the backing of the state’s voters in his reelection bid.
Obama was in folksy campaign mode, appearing in shirt sleeves rather than a suit and waxing nostalgic as he spoke to a crowd at Kirkwood Community College. He recalled how he and his wife used to “Xerox” campaign flyers when he was running for the Illinois state Senate, and how he filled up his car with gas for campaign trips on his own dime.
He used the same approach as he made his pitch for Congress to act now to extend Bush-era tax cuts for Americans earning less than $250,000. He focused on the local high school principal, Jason McLaughlin, and his wife, Ali, and how expiration of the tax cuts would hurt them.
The first home that he and Michelle Obama lived in was about the size of the McLaughlins’, Obama said, and they struggled with the bills every month.
Like the McLaughlins, he said, he had always aspired to work hard and didn’t ask for wealth in return, just the chance for the occasional vacation like the ones of his childhood on the Greyhound bus or a rental car.
“We love folks gettin’ rich,” Obama said. “I hope Malia and Sasha go out there ... if that’s what they want to do, that’s great. But I do want to make sure that everybody else gets that chance as well.”
Obama left the harder-edged campaigning to his surrogates, who were fighting a new effort by Republicans to challenge his credentials as an “in-sourcer” of American jobs. Republican party Chairman Reince Priebus traveled to Cedar Rapids to push the GOP case while Obama was there, unveiling a new website that charged Obama with allowing money from the economic stimulus bill to be used for jobs overseas.
As Republicans attacked on that issue, Vice President Joe Biden countered with a new blast at Republican Mitt Romney’s unwillingness to disclose more than two years’ tax returns. Biden released the advance text of a speech to Latino leaders in which he combined the tax issue with a jab at Romney’s support for Arizona’s tough law against illegal immigrants.
Romney, he said, “wants you to show your papers, but he won’t show us his.”