MAUMEE, Ohio - With just four months to go until Election Day, President Obama told supporters at the first stop of his two-day campaign bus tour he's "betting" they won't lose heart or interest in the run-up to November.
"Unless you have been hiding out in the woods somewhere, you are aware of the fact that it's campaign season," he told an enthusiastic crowd at the historic Wolcott House Museum.
Speaking in the sweltering heat in front of a large American flag and bales of hay, the president said he understands the campaign is "not always pretty to watch."
"There has been more money flooding into the system than we've ever seen before, more negative ads, more cynicism," he said. "I know sometimes it may be tempting to kind of turn away from all of it and just turn off the TV."
The president, who has admitted he will be outspent by Republicans in the election, said some groups are hoping voters will just tune out the campaign.
"I'm betting you're not going to lose interest," Obama said. "I'm betting you're not going to lose heart… I still believe in you. I'm betting on you."
As he kicks his campaign into high gear, the president is arguing that the election will determine the nation's economic fate and that rival Mitt Romney would pursue policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
"I want to work with anybody who believes that we're in this together," Obama said. "I'm not a Democrat first, I'm an American first. I believe we rise or fall as one nation as one people."
The president largely stayed on message today as he touted his economic agenda and American manufacturing, casting himself as the defender of the middle class and Romney as out-of-touch.
Obama, who is using his Betting on America-themed bus tour to highlight his bailout of the auto industry, said that, while his opponent wanted to "let Detroit go bankrupt," he was "betting on the American worker."
"And three years later the American auto industry has come roaring back," he said to cheers from the crowd.
While his campaign co-chair blasted Romney's off-shore bank accounts in his opening remarks, the president opted to repeat his accusation that Romney helped send jobs overseas.
"Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing," he said. "My experience has been in saving the American auto industry. And as long as I'm president, that's what I'm going to be doing: waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities."
The president touted his administration's decision to challenge China in the World Trade Organization for putting tariffs on U.S. auto exports.
While the administration has denied the timing of the announcement was political, Obama noted, "Just this morning my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American auto makers."
Next stop: Sandusky, Ohio.