UPDATE: Obama Back in Des Moines to Woo Iowans in Battle Over Swing State
Iowa's six electoral voters are judged to be all-important in the general election. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns have invested in the Hawkeye State.
Iowa is back at the dance again, and President Barack Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney are vying to fill our dance card.
President Obama was in Iowa Thursday, on the heels of Romney's visit just 10 days ago.
"We love you Mr. President," someone from the crowd at the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center shouted as the president began his speech. "I love you back," he replied.
Without Iowa "I would not have the privilege of being your president. You were the first ones to believe."
Obama was also in Iowa City last month. Michelle Obama famously danced the Interlude, the YouTube sensation from the University of Northern Iowa as part of Iowa's campaign against childhood obesity in February, and met privately with volunteers and supporters in Des Moines again in April.
'Cowpie of Distortions'
Presumed Republican nominee Romney was in Des Moines May 15, telling Iowans that debt is crushing the country's economy. It was his first appearance since the Jan. 3 caucuses.
Thursday night, Obama referred to that speech and Romney's "prairie fire of debt" quote and said the Republican's speech was "more like a cowpie of distortions."
Iowans revel in this presidential candidate love, even to the point of taking our state's importance in the presidential race for granted. But this year, Iowa's season in the sun will stretch beyond caucus season.
That's because Iowa, with its six electoral votes, is one of 10 undecided states. The rest are either presumed decided as red or blue states in the race for the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.
270towin.com puts Obama at 217 electoral votes and Romney with 191. The 10 undecided states account for 130 electoral votes.
A May 8 Public Policy Polling poll has Obama with 51 percent of the vote and Romney with 41 percent in Iowa. An earlier Iowa poll showed the two candidates in a dead heat here.
Families Turn Out to See President
Tom and Andrea Phillips of Johnston came to the rally with their children, Roger, 8, and Nancy, 3, even though Roger wasn't too keen on the idea.
"Tom heard about it and we thought we should take advantage of the opportunity to come and see our president," said Andrea. "I'm from Idaho and we never get any presidential candidates."
Iowans like Mark McDonald of Urbandale stood in line for up to two hours to hear the president, although McDonald said he was fortunate to have gotten to the fairgrounds after the mid-afternoon rain storm. Organizers moved people out of the rain and into nearby barns.
President Says He's Looking Forward; GOP Heading Backward
Obama covered a gamut of topics from the economy, to abortion, to cuts to Planned Parenthood, gays in the military, health care reform, and renewable energy to make the point that Republicans want to take the country backward and he'll lead the country forward.
He called Romney's plan for $5 trillion in tax cuts, many for the wealthy, like "throwing gasoline on the prairie fire of debt."
He also said his administration inherited an economic "house of cards" and that his opponents' outrage about spending are a little like they left the table after placing their order and then complained, "Who ordered all these steaks and martinis?"
He asked for Iowans' help and affection.
"I still believe in you and I want you to still believe in me," he told the crowd. Without Iowa "I would not have the privilege of being your president. You were the first ones to believe."
He said he had warned Iowans that he wouldn't be a perfect president, but that he would wake up every day and try to do his best for the American people.
"I have kept that promise and I will keep that promise as long as you have me as president," he said.