President Obama took his middle-class tax-cut message on Tuesday to Iowa, a state where some of the same voters who helped hand him a landslide primary victory and inspired the nation to embrace his come-from-behind candidacy in 2008 are experiencing a case of buyer’s remorse.
During remarks at the Kirkland Recreational Center in Cedar Rapids, the president stressed his own humble beginnings as he tried to demonstrate the significance of extending the Bush-era tax breaks for middle-class families.
Just prior to the speech, Mr. Obama visited with a local family — Jason McLaughlin, who is about to become a high school principal, his wife Ali and their young son Cooper — and discussed how the tax cuts have helped the McLaughlins make ends meet in tough economic times.
In a transparent effort to contrast his background with GOP rival Mitt Romney’s status as a mega-millionaire, Mr. Obama said the McLaughlin family home resembled the one he and Michelle had owned for their first 13 years of marriage and said he related to the bills they are confronted with each month.
“The mortgage, the student loans, the electricity bills, the car note, day care,” he said. “Everything they were talking about was familiar because Michelle and I went through it.”
Taking credit for giving the McLaughlins some $4,900 in tax relief during his time in office, he told the crowd that the family and others like them could be hit with a $2,200 tax hike at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act and the Bush-era tax cuts expire.
“It would not only be a huge blow to families, it would be a huge blow to our economy,” he said.
President Obama won Iowa by a decisive 9.54 percent over Sen. John McCain in 2008, but right now the race is too close to call, with a rolling average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com showing a dead heat for the small Midwest state’s cache of six Electoral College votes. Strategists on both campaigns predict this year’s Iowa contest will be the most intense in the state’s political history.
Mr. Obama appeared to acknowledge his dip in popularity in the state while fighting hard to regain momentum.
“I know at times it can be tempting to lose interest and lose heart,” Mr. Obama told the crowd, referring to the constant flood of campaigning and negative ads in the state. “I’m betting that you won’t. I’m betting that you will be as fired up as you were in 2008 because you understand the stakes for America.”
Intent on holding onto Iowa, Mr. Obama is responsible for a fusillade of advertising unprecedented in both its early start, as well as its price tag. Some of the earliest ads, as well a more recent assaults, focus on Mr. Romney’s time as the head of Bain Capital, portraying him as a early proponent of outsourcing U.S. jobs.