Hoping to recapture some of the same electricity that fueled his 2008 victory, President Obama has spent the last three days in Iowa on a nostalgia tour, reminding voters how they helped catapult him into the White House and asking them to do it again in November.
He's sympathized with farmers hard-hit by the drought, drank a beer and ate pork chops at the Iowa State Fair and recalled his glory days back in 2008 when he shocked the political establishment by beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, then went on to win the state — and a majority of the rest of the country — that November.
First Lady Michelle Obama joined the president in Dubuque Wednesday for his final day of his bus tour, and the two spoke fondly about their Iowa memories.
"What makes Iowa so special – this is where our movement for change happened. It was because of you that I had the strength and the spirit to go through that campaign. And it was because of you that I had the strength and spirit to do the job over the last four years," Mr. Obama said.
But he told them that push is not yet done.
"I've got to ask you to stand with me to finish what we started in 2008," he added.
Spending three consecutive days in Iowa — a huge chunk of time for any presidential campaign — gave the president a chance to remember the old campaign, and to use some new ammunition: support for wind-energy tax credits, which have replaced ethanol subsidies as the state's latest pet issue.
Iowa derives 20 percent of its energy production from wind turbines and wind energy is also responsible for 6,000 to 7,000 jobs in the state.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney opposes the wind tax credits, which are due to expire at the end of this year.
But Mr. Obama wants them extended, and repeatedly called on Mr. Romney and his new running mate Rep. Paul Ryan to stop "standing in the way" of extending them.
At one point the president visited the Heil family wind-energy farm in Haverhill, Iowa to demonstrate his support for the homegrown energy.
Mr. Romney wants wind power and other renewable to compete in the free market without government subsidies. His campaign has been deeply critical of Mr. Obama's energy policy – what they say is his failure to quickly approve the Keystone Pipeline and take a more aggressive approach to opening federal land to oil and gas drilling, instead investing in failed green-energy companies like Solyndra.
Recent polls in Iowa show a dead-heat race for the presidency, and in contrast to the president's July bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania where he holds small leads, Mr. Obama remarks this week reflected a new urgency to his campaign and to the threat he says Republicans pose to the nation.
During a stop in Oskaloosa Tuesday, he pressed the wind-energy issue hard by mocking Mr. Romney for saying in a speech a few months ago in which the Republican said: "You can't drive a car with a windmill on it."
"I don't know if he's actually tried that. I know he's had other things on his car," Mr. Obama joked, referring to the story about the Romneys taking a family road trip in 1983 with their Irish setter, Seamus, in a carrier strapped to the roof of the car.
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Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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