President Obama launched his post-State of the Union tour today in a campaign-style speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he pitched his vision for the future of American manufacturing.
The president began his three-day trip through five battleground states reminiscing about the 2008 election.
"I know there's been a lot of excitement here over the past couple of months. It kind of made me nostalgic," Obama told workers at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing. "I used to have a lot of fun here in Iowa."
"All across this state, in all 99 counties - and I was in, I think, just about every county - we talked about how for years the middle class was having a tougher time. Hard work had stopped paying off for too many people," he said.
Offering a truncated version of Tuesday night's address, the president continued to cast himself as a defender of the middle class and previewed the themes he will hammer throughout his re-election campaign.
The president outlined his populist vision for an America where "there's a sense of fair play and shared responsibility" and where everyone does their "fair share," including the wealthiest Americans.
Obama touted his plans to reform the tax code and to reward companies that hire workers in the U.S. Obama also took direct aim at Republicans seeking to block his economic agenda.
"Their philosophy, what there is of it, seems to be pretty simple: We're better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves, and everybody can play by their own rules. And I'm here to say they're wrong," he said.
The White House continues to say the president's trip is not political, but today's speech came after the Republican presidential candidates spent months in Iowa bashing the president and his record.
Obama will continue to focus on manufacturing at his next stop in Phoenix.
Thursday, he will shift gears to American energy.
The trip is designed to highlight the "four pillars" of the "Blueprint for an America Built to Last," which the president outlined in his State of the Union address. The other two pillars that he will promote are skills for American workers and values.