President Barack Obama is back in the birthplace of his political triumph. But this time the electorate is surly instead of inspired, and he's not on the ballot alongside his embattled fellow Democrats.
Obama is in Des Moines for the latest in a series of "backyard discussions" with voters. He's so fond of the format that he's holding three in two days, trying to convince Americans that despite their discontent with the Democratic majority, a Republican takeover of Congress on Nov. 2 would be worse.
His Wednesday morning event, at the home of Jeff and Sandy Clubb, will include about 70 of their neighbors. That's nearly twice the crowd Obama faced outside a home Tuesday in Albuquerque, N.M.
The president will finish his four-state tour Wednesday afternoon with a meeting with voters in Richmond, Va.
There is irony in Obama using Iowa as a venue to try to avert a Republican landslide. His victory in the January 2008 Iowa caucus put him on the path to the Democratic presidential nomination, and he carried the state comfortably that November against Republican John McCain.
But almost every state is a battleground in this fall's congressional elections, and Obama is devoting ever more time to campaigning for his party.
Tuesday night's rally at the University of Wisconsin came the closest so far to recapturing the enthusiasm of his 2008 drive to the White House. This time, of course, Obama is acting as a surrogate, not as the candidate topping the ticket.
He implored young voters who backed him in 2008 to vote for Democrats this fall.
"Every single one of you is a shareholder in that mission of rebuilding our country and reclaiming our future," he told thousands of students packing the campus's chilly Library Mall.
"We can't let this country fall backwards because the rest of us didn't care enough to fight," he said. "The stakes are too high for our country and for your future."
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