PARMA, Ohio -- President Barack Obama arrived to James Day Park Thursday night to a roaring crowd of supporters who were chanting, "Four more years," and didn’t seem to care about his tardiness (by about 40 minutes).
When Obama’s “Betting on America” campaign bus finally pulled up a little before 8 p.m., he stepped out with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, both of whom he mentioned in the opening remarks of his speech. He then explained why he was late to the event, saying he’d stopped for a beer at Ziggy’s in Amherst.
“So I’m feeling good,” quipped the president.
But Mr. Obama was all business when he discussed the fate of the country and the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
“This is about two different visions of how we move forward,” Obama said.
Obama detailed his vision of the American dream, telling supporters that if they worked hard enough, they’d “make a decent wage” and be able to “retire with dignity and respect.”
The hour-long speech also focused on the economy and importance of the middle class.
Obama attacked Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, saying his plan to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans will not help average, hard-working Americans.
“I don’t think we grow the economy from the top down, but from the middle class up.”
The president's 2012 bus tour, a 250-mile, two-day journey, centered around manufacturing communities hard hit by the recession.
But Obama also detailed other campaign issues on his platform. He wants to hire more teachers and make college more affordable.
Obama told the crowd that he kept his promises by ending the War in Iraq war and killing Osama bin Laden. He said over the next term, he would continue to bring troops home from Afghanistan and use money saved from ending those wars to invest in America’s infrastructure, and pay down the deficit.
Most importantly, Obama said he will crack down on unfair trade practices with China and reward U.S. companies who stay in the states.
Obama said he inherited the recession and two wars, but has done his best to grow the economy, and he says it will continue to grow if the country stays the course.
Obama said he was proud of his health care reform legislation, which makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage based on age or pre-existing conditions. It also allows children to stay on their parents plan until they are 26.
That made one special guest in the crowd very happy.
Cancer survivor Natoma Canfield was personally invited by the president to the event.
The Medina woman became the face of the presidents’ health care reform agenda, when two years ago she wrote Mr. Obama a letter explaining her dire health situation. The leukemia survivor had been re-diagnosed with cancer and did not have health care.
She never expected the president to read her letter, let alone contact her. Obama cited her situation numerous times as he fought to pass health care reform legislation.
Natoma, who is now in remission, has spoken to the president a few times, and her letter now hangs on a wall in the Oval Office, but until Thursday, she had never met him.
Natoma hopes all Americans learn from her experience.
“One person can be heard. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned. We all have to put our voice out there,” said Ms. Canfield.
In the end, the president said it’s the voters' voices which matter most this coming November.
He thanked everyone for their support and encouraged them to get out and vote.
“I still believe in you, and if you still believe in me, and if you are willing to do the work, we will finish what we started in 2008, and we will grow the middle class and strengthen America,” said Obama. “God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”
By Fox 8 News Reporter Enrique Correa
SANDUSKY, Ohio -- While on the tour, President Obama made an unexpected stop at the Kozy Corner restaurant in Oak Harbor, where he shook hands with some of the people enjoying their meals.
Then, he jumped on his bus for another unscheduled stop: Bergman's Orchard in Danbury Township, where he purchased eight ears of corn that he said he was taking back to D.C.
The President then arrived at Washington Park in Sandusky for his Toft's ice cream social with about 300 hundred invited guests.
Obama was introduced to the crowd by Sandusky native, and former NFL and OSU star, Orlando Pace.
Speaking to the anxious crowd, the President said:
"If you are willing to put your shoulder to the wheel and work hard, then the basic bargain in this country is, you can find a job that pays a decent wage; you should be able to buy a home."
Many of the people who waited in the humid heat say the last time a sitting president came to Sandusky was back in 1948 when Harry Truman came to town.
Retired Judge Donald Ramsey says the President needs our help to keep him in the White House.
"I'm excited, and most importantly to support for his re-election. It's very important that he be re-elected."
Frank Cox and his wife, Nettie, were also at Thursday's event.
"We have been campaigning for him since his last election. We even went out of state to campaign for him--that's how much we are thrilled about Obama, and having him come here where we can finally get to see him is just the highlight of my life," said Cox.
Day 2 of the President's 2012 bus tour will continue Friday with stops in Boardman and Poland Ohio, in Mahoning County.
Stick with Fox 8 News and FOX8.com for updates on President Obama's tour in Ohio.