URBANDALE - President Barack Obama, in Iowa to kick off a campaign swing, mockingly charged Saturday that the just-concluded Republican convention had showcased policies "better suited for the last century."
"You might as well have watched it on a black and white TV," Obama told a cheering crowd of thousands in Urbandale, outside Des Moines. The president was in Iowa — a pivotal battleground state — on the first stop of a push that will take him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Obama recalled how his upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses four years ago had revived his campaign at a time when pundits were predicting his political demise. "And it will be you, Iowa, who will choose the path we take from here."
The president took several shots at the Republican convention in Tampa, noting Romney did not mention Afghanistan in his acceptance speech on Thursday, and accusing his political foes of having outdated ideas. "It was something to behold. Despite all the challenges that we face in this new century what they offered over those three days was, more often than not, an agenda that was better suited for the last century," he said. "It was a re-run. We'd seen it before."
"If you didn't DVR it, let me recap it for you: Everything's bad, it's Obama's fault, and Governor Romney is the only one who knows the secret to creating jobs and growing the economy," he said. "That was the pitch."
"And when Governor Romney had his chance to let you in on his secret, he did not offer a single new idea. Just retreads of the same old policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years," Obama charged.
A spokesman for Mitt Romney's campaign, Ryan Williams, hit back.
"President Obama dubbed this trip the 'Road to Charlotte' but his policies have taken us on a road to declining incomes, higher unemployment and more uncertainty for the middle class. And in the face of a record of failure, he offered no new solutions, just misleading attacks," Williams said.
Obama's greatest vulnerability is the sour economy, still sputtering nearly four years after he took office vowing to fix it. Stubbornly high unemployment and sluggish growth weigh down his hopes for a second term. The president's response has been to argue that he inherited an economic crisis of historic dimensions and that Romney's approach is to favor the rich at the expense of the middle class.
Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan explicitly took on that argument explicitly in his speech. "We are four years into this presidency. The issue is not the economy as Barack Obama inherited it, not the economy as he envisions it, but this economy as we are living it," he said.