President Barack Obama laid out his plans for a second term during a stop Friday afternoon at the University of Iowa in a speech that lifted many of the talking points from Thursday night's acceptance address at the Democratic National Convention.
If re-elected, the president said his goals include: creating one million manufacturing jobs; reducing the deficit by $4 trillion, and encouraging the development of cars that go twice as far on a gallon of gas.
"You'll save money, and it's good for the environment," he told the supportive crowd in Iowa City during the speech, which lasted about 30 minutes.
The president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, spoke outdoors on the UI Pentacrest lawn -- an iconic setting in the heart of campus -- on a drizzly afternoon in Iowa City.
Obama and Biden focused on familiar themes: building the economy and protecting the middle class, railing against "top-down economic policies," and creating jobs through "education, energy, innovation, and infrastructure.
The message was clearly tailored to Iowa and university students with promises of wind energy credits, holding down student debt and putting more people through college.
Obama urged the crowd estimated at more than 8,000 to register to vote, go to the polls and to buy into what he called "achievable goals."
"We will win Johnson County, we will win Iowa, we will finish what we started in 2008," Obama said at the rally.
He told the students in attendance that they helped start the change in Iowa four years ago when he upset then Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Caucuses. Obama pledged to control student debt so they can start life "without being saddled with student debt."
"I'm not just asking for your vote, I'm asking you to rally around achievable goals for our country," Obama said.
Speakers at the GOP national convention talked only about the country's problems and their answer to fix everything is "tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts," Obama said.
"Cut taxes when times are good, cut taxes when times are bad. I cut taxes for those who need it, middle-class families," he said.
Vice President Biden introduced Obama. He said the president has the courage to make tough calls "such as ending the war in Iraq, killing Osama Bin Laden."
Biden challenged the notion that the country is heading in the wrong direction.
"America's not on the decline, it's on the rise. It's never a good bet to bet against the American people."
Iowans' Take on the Election
Paul Stokstad of Fairfield attended the event with his son, Johan Stockstad, 9, of Cedar Rapids, who missed school today to see the president.
"This is not about the economy, it's who do you trust to be in office if something bad happens. After George W. Bush, I don't trust any Republican to be in office," Paul Stockstad said.
He said there is no other option in the race besides re-electing the president.
Rain was intermittent as the crowd awaited the president's party to arrive, but it held off while during the speech.
Claire Murphy, 23, a senior at the University of Iowa from Council Bluffs, said she's an off-and-on volunteer for the Obama campaign. This is her eighth time seeing the president speak.
Of Obama's first term she said, "I think he's done a lot of what we wanted him to do. In modern American politics we tried to reform health care, we hired him to do that and he has. It's not perfect, but we're working on that."
The audience was a mix of students, young and old voters. Jefferson Jr. and Ava Challenger, 7-year-old twins and third-graders in Cedar Rapids, were able to skip school for the visit.
Their mother, Monica, said the family is interested in politics and watched both the Republican and Democratic conventions the past two weeks on TV.
When asked what he thought of getting to see the president in person, Jefferson said, "It's cool."
Republican Nominee Also in Iowa Today
GOP nominee Mitt Romney was also in Iowa on Friday. Romney campaigned at noon at Northwestern College in Orange City. Romney and Obama (and the three other principals) also both had campaign stops in New Hampshire on Friday.
The campaigns are neck and neck nationally. Real Clear Politics shows Obama polling at 45 percent and Romney at 44.8 percent, and Iowa (and its six delegates) is considered one of only eight toss up states.
A university spokesman said the White House asked them to be able to accommodate 8,000 people for the visit. University Democrats, a student group, is sponsored the event, and some of the students had a chance to meet the president.
Obama has been a frequent visitor to the key battleground state of Iowa, which fueled his election run in 2008 with a surprise win in the caucus.
Obama appears fond of Iowa City, which is perhaps the most Democratic part of the state, as well as . UI was the first stop after he signed the historic Obamacare legislation into law in 2010 and UI was one of visited this past spring to kickoff a push to freeze interest rates on student loans. On Friday, Obama returned again fresh off his keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night.
The campaign stop adds to the craziness on campus, with the all-important in-state rivalry game between on Saturday.