UPDATE: President Obama Greets Crowds at the Iowa State Fair, Eats a Pork Chop, Has a Beer and Hits the Road
President Barack Obama's campaign bus arrived at the Iowa State Fairgrounds about 7:30 tonight. The presidents hugged supporters, chowed down on some fair and hit the road at about 8:30 p.m.
The Grand Concourse of the Iowa State Fair is always crowded.
Unless the president of the United States drops in. President Barack Obama arrived at the fairgrounds about 7:30 p.m. tonight, with streets cleared for his campaign bus. He greeted people and headed to a lemonade stand. Earlier in the day he said he was hankering for fried fair foods.
Johnnie Coutchee, 22, of Des Moines said she works at the fair in the custodial department. She was in a group hug with the president and her co-workers. Coutchee says she plans to vote for Obama and her group was leading a chant of "Four More Years" as he walked along the concourse.
Bjorn Follestad, 18, from Champaign, IL, was in the Budweiser tent and works at a toy stand on the fairgrounds. He said Obama was eating a pork chop and dropped by the tent when Follestad yelled "I'm from Illinois, too."
"He had a firm grip, a handsome smile and a touch of gray," was how Follestad described the president's appearance. "He was a real nice guy, I just met him and got a handshake."
Follestad says he plans to vote for the president in November.
Monday was the first day of a three-day swing across Iowa, an unprecedented amount of campaign attention from a president, highlighting how important the state's electoral votes are in the close race with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Patch will update coverage of the president's Des Moines appearance this evening, so check back for more news and photos from the State Fair visit.
USA Today says a new survey puts Romney in a near-dead heat with President Obama. The president has 48 percent support, while Romney has 47 percent, well within the margin of error, according to the Politico-George Washington University Battleground Poll. Romney drew media attention throughout the weekend for announcing Saturday morning that his choice for vice president is Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Ryan spoke at the fair early Monday afternoon, touring the grounds with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. During his speech, a protester jumped on the stage and tried to shout Ryan down.
The president campaigned earlier today in Council Bluffs and Boone.
Obama will take his middle-class economics message to Oskaloosa, Marshalltown and Waterloo on Tuesday and finally to Dubuque and Davenport on Wednesday. First Lady Michelle Obama plans to join him on the final day.