CEDAR RAPIDS - Kirkwood Community College's gym holds roughly 1,600 people. Tuesday afternoon, elated Obama supporters filled the bleachers to the rafters, eagerly awaiting the president.
Iowa City's Diplomats of Solid Sound belted out soul music that could do little to drown the excitement in the room.
Between presenters, the one part of the crowd chanted "four more years" to which the other replied "yes we can." By time the president made his way to the lectern, the crowd's enthusiasm had reached a fever pitch.
President Barack Obama waits for applause to subside while speaking at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids Tuesday.
Obama's visit to Kirkwood College was a homecoming of sorts. In 2007, then-Senator Obama made his first campaign speech at Kennedy High School, also in Cedar Rapids.
"This state gave me a chance when no one else would," Obama said.
One presenter, Peggy Whitworth, an Obama volunteer, said Iowa is a place where middle-class values matter. Communities like Cedar Rapids are caring and supportive.
"The reason I volunteer, is because in a participatory democracy we need participants," she said.
Most of the president's speech to jubilant supporters addressed exactly what Whitworth and other presenters lauded him for: creating jobs and cutting taxes for the middle class, something he said his opponent, Mitt Romney, has no interest in doing.
State Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, of Cedar Rapids, said Obama understands what families are talking about around the kitchen table.
Meanwhile, in a town-hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colo., Romney pointed the finger at the president saying it is Obama's economic plan that won't work.
Obama said middle-class values, which he and others said are predicated on hard work and responsibility, are what will reinvigorate this country. They are the fundamental American ideal.
"No matter who you are, no matter where you come from America is a place where you can make it if you try," Obama said. "America has never been a country of people looking for hand-outs. It's a country of workers, of dreamers."
The president said rejuvenating America's sputtering economy will come by cutting taxes for the middle class and shifting that burden onto people like him - those earning more than $250,000 a year.
Cutting taxes for the wealthy will either result in an increase in the national debt or reducing spending for, what he called, much-needed government programs by 20 to 30 percent, he said.
"Some things you do together," Obama said. "We don't just look after ourselves, we look after other people too."
During his Colorado town hall, Romney said the president's claims of having lowered taxes for the middle class is a misnomer. He simply didn't raise taxes, which, in Washington, he said, means he lowered them.
Negative ads about his presidency do nothing to distract voters, who Obama said can "cut through the nonsense," from the reality that building from the top down doesn't work.
"It's not a plan to grow a country," he said. "They don't have that plan. I got that plan."
Obama vowed to continue to fight for Iowans and others like them because he said he sees so much of himself, of his history and how he got to where he is in them.
The president also took time to touch on what he sees as his accomplishments during his presidency thus far: his recent health care bill, dubbed "Obamacare," the Big Three auto bailout and ending the war in Iraq.
"Now it's time to do some nation building here at home," he said,
He said he plans to use a good deal of the money that was funding the war to help rebuild infrastructure and make education affordable for everyone.
Higher education isn't a luxury, he said, it's a necessity. As for the health care act: he said it was the right thing to do.
"No one in America should go broke just because they get sick," he said.
Following the speech, the Times-Republican, along with reporters from four other Iowa newspapers, sat down with the president for a 30-minute round-table discussion.
Obama told reporters that taking the economy off the table when talking about issues he plans to address should he get reelected, simply isn't possible.
"The thing that is an overriding concern to the American people right now is how do we rebuild an economy where there are good jobs out there, wages are going up, incomes are going up and people have confidence their kids are going to do better than they are?" Obama said. "That basic American Dream has been eroding for a lot of families over the last decade or two. People feel less secure"
The government has done a good job helping the agriculture sector, he said. Now, it's time to do the same thing for cutting-edge industries, such as wind energy, by providing government incentives similar to those the government provides farmers.
Natural gas is driving down energy costs, but clean energy is more important than ever, he said.
Congress needs to renew the tax credits for those industries, he said, instead of giving them to oil companies.
"Exxon Mobile doesn't need a tax break," Obama said.
Infrastructure also needs repairing, he said, his administration will continue to address both of these are issues should he get reelected.
Now is the time for infrastructure repairs, he said. America has $2 trillion of deferred maintenance, and many contractors are unemployed and would likely get jobs done ahead of schedule and under cost.
"If you keep putting off the roof, sooner or later you are going to have to pay for it," he said.
Another topic on the table included government efficiency as it relates to the process of legal immigration.
"There is no doubt the process can be streamlined, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have less people on the job, it just means you have them operating more efficiently so you don't get these back logs," he said.
The issue is similar to the back log of Veterans Affairs claims, which still includes Agent Orange claims from Vietnam.
Congress needs to change immigration laws to make them smarter, he said.
While those who exploit undocumented workers need to be punished, the president said, it is time for law-abiding immigrants to stop living in fear.
"For us to continue to keep them in the shadows, I think is a real problem," he said.