UPDATE: Labor Day Weekend Appeal to Middle Class in Obama's Iowa Stop
President Barack Obama spoke to thousands at Living History Farms in Urbandale Saturday. His Iowa campaign stop is one of several in key swing states before the Democratic National Convention begins Tuesday.
URBANDALE, IA – President Barack Obama told thousands of supporters Saturday that he'll offer something better in a jobs package at the Democrat National Convention than the short-on-specifics plan Republicans offered earlier in the week.
"Everything's bad, it's Obama's fault and Gov. Romney is the only one who knows how to create jobs," Obama mockingly said. "That was the pitch. ... He didn't offer a single new idea.
"They didn't say much," said Obama, who began a campaign swing through battleground states that will end Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., "not because they know you won't like it, but because you have lived through it and can't afford to repeat it."
Katie O’Connor, 35, of Des Moines said she’s not sure Obama can pull out a win in November. “People feel let down,” she said. “He made promises he didn’t keep, but the odds were stacked against him by Republicans who wouldn’t work with him and distorted his record. But he still got health care through, got the student loan thing done and he got Osama bin Laden.
“If this was a Republican record, they would be cheering it,” O’Connor said.
Obama used the Labor Day weekend to appeal to the middle class, which he said is tired of "retreads of the same old policies that have stuck it to you for years."
The economic strength of the country rests on the backs of middle class workers, he said.
"You're tired of the trickle-down policies," the president said to thunderous applause. "They won't create jobs and they won't move the country forward."
Obama also gave a nod to the wind industry in Iowa, which creates 7,000 jobs and which Republican Mitt Romney calls an "imaginary" energy source. That industry is the future, the president said.
"It's time to stop giving $4 billlion in subsidies to big oil companies that are making money every time you go to the pump," he said.
He also used the occasion to make a pitch for early voting, which begins Sept. 27.
"I'm counting on you and I need your help," he said.
Obama spoke before an already warmed up crowd estimated at 10,000 by authorities at Living History Farms in Urbandale. Grammy-winning artist Chris Cornell, the frontman for the indie group Soundgarden, fired up a crowd of thousands waiting the president to take the stage.
The visit – following a rally on Tuesday at Iowa State University – is part of a campaign swing through battleground states that will end Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
The president was back in the state for the second time this week and seventh time since January – a nod to the state’s small but influential swing-state electoral votes and the importance of youth voters to his struggling re-election campaign.
The rustic, pastoral background at Living History Farms’ recreated farm villages tracing Iowa’s settlement was juxtaposed Saturday with the image of musicians who are anything traditional. Cornell shared the stage with The National, a next-generation band whose genre has been described as “sad-core.” Together, they appeal to a group of voters that Obama sorely needs to win a second term.
Younger voters are Obama’s people, though less decisively than four years ago. Both Obama and his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney who officially accepted his party’s nomination in Tampa Thursday, are clearly courting them.
In his acceptance speech, Romney mocked the “hope and change” theme that resonated so strongly with young voters in 2008.
"You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him," he said in his nomination acceptance speech. "President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family."
Maria Patramanis, 26, of Urbandale said Obama “absolutely still has a possibility” of winning young voters like her over.
“It’s still a work in progress, but things have changed,” she said. “It’s not going to change overnight, and there is nothing wrong with that.”
A Reuters/Ipsos Poll taken Friday after the convention said voters still are leaning toward Obama by a slight margin, but voters are warming to Romney. Romney had entered the week trailing Obama by four percentage points.
Proposals to make tax credits for college expenses permanent and expand Pell grants for students from lower-earning families resonated with the thousands attending today’s event, as much rock festival as campaign rally. Many were college-aged students trying to find ways to pay for college degrees.
The cost of a four-year education grew by 72 percent above inflation over the past decade, averaging $8,244 last year, and leaving the average borrower with $24,000 in debt on commencement day.