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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Obama Returns to Iowa on Eve of His Convention


URBANDALE, Iowa â€" On the eve of his party's nominating convention, President Obama took his re-election campaign to Iowa on Saturday, returning to the state where he opened his unlikely quest for the presidency five years ago.

It was Mr. Obama's seventh visit to the state this year, and his 13th as president, reflecting the importance of this swing state's six electoral votes to his prospects of winning the necessary 270 votes in a close, unpredictable election.

Speaking at an outdoor rally in this rural town near Des Moines, Mr. Obama lampooned Mitt Romney's just-concluded Republican convention as heavy on criticism of the president, bereft of new proposals and stuck on ideas of the past.

“You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV,” Mr. Obama said, to the applause and amusement of his audience. He offered a summary: “Everything's bad, it's Obama's fault and Governor Romney is going to be the one who knows the secret to creating jobs and growing the economy.”

“There was a lot of talk about hard choice and bold choices, but nobody ever bothered to actually tell you what they were,” he added. “And when Gov. Romney had his chance to let you in on his secrets, he did not offer a single new idea - just retreads of the same old policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years.”

Mr. Romney and other Republicans did not provide policy details, Mr. Obama said, “because they know you won't like it, because you've lived through it and you can't afford to repeat it.”

He said he opposed their ideas of providing additional tax cuts to wealthy Americans and turning Medicare into a voucher program for futu re beneficiaries. And Mr. Obama lambasted Republicans for their vows to undo laws tightening regulations of financial institutions, expanding health insurance coverage and protecting air and water quality.

Mr. Obama, who was introduced at the rally by Lucas Beenken, a veteran of the Iraq war, for the first time pointed to an omission in Mr. Romney's speech accepting his party's nomination: “Gov. Romney had nothing to say about Afghanistan last week, let alone offer a plan for the 33,000 troops who will have come home from the war by the end of this month.”

“You know, he said ending the war in Iraq was tragic; I said we'd end that war and we did. I said we'd take out Bin Laden and we did” â€" a line that drew among the biggest bursts of applause and chants of “U.S.A.” from the crowd.

After his first appearance, Mr. Obama did interviews with three local television stations from separate parts of the state, before flying to Sioux City, Iowa. From t here he goes to Colorado on Sunday and then Ohio, both battleground states.

On Monday he will tour the hurricane damage in Louisiana, a solid Republican state, and visit Virginia, a swing state, on Tuesday before arriving for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.