Virginia Beach, Virginia (CNN) – Once again setting up this election as a battle between "different visions" for the future of America, President Barack Obama took his campaign to Virginia on Friday and questioned Republicans' commitment to one of their central campaign themes.
Repeating his pledge to let lower tax rates for upper-income workers expire at the end of the year, the president said that his opponents' disagreement means they're not determined to reduce the nation's deficit.
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"Let's not hold middle class folks hostage," Obama said, to cheers from the friendly crowd. "The top two percent, those tax cuts, that'll be settled in the next election and I'm looking forward to having a debate, because if you say you want to bring down the deficit but you're not willing to let tax cuts lapse for the top two percent it tells me you're not serious about deficit reduction."
Throughout much of his remarks before roughly 1,400 supporters gathered in the Green Run High School gymnasium, the president touted his administration's various political accomplishments. After describing policies he deemed successful, Obama tried to label promises made by his likely Republican opponent Mitt Romney to roll back his actions as attempts to move the country backwards.
In trumpeting his decision to halt deportations of certain undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Obama took a dig at an immigration proposal Romney suggested at a GOP primary debate earlier this year.
"Mr. Romney says that undocumented workers in this country should self deport," Obama said. "My belief is that we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants and I want to make sure we have comprehensive immigration reform that gives people who've been raised here a chance to live out their own American dream. I don't want to go backwards. I want to go forwards."
Thematically the president tried to frame his pitch to voters as an offshoot of his own biography. While his campaign has spent the past several months highlighting Romney's wealth and experience as a corporate CEO, Obama bracketed his remarks in a reminder to Virginia voters of the comparatively modest upbringing he and Michelle had in middle class families.
The president told the audience about his grandparents' reliance on government programs to go to college and buy a home. He told them about Michelle's father's struggles with multiple sclerosis, and her mother's decision to stay home to raise her children.
He even reminisced about a cross-country trip he took with his family as a child, "but we didn't do it on jets, we took Greyhound, and the train, and I think twice we rented a car."
"It all goes back to my family, and your family," Obama said, linking his biography to politics. And as he often does at campaign events, he repeated a promise he made in 2008 to spend every day trying to make Americans' lives better.
"I made that promise because I saw myself in you, and I saw Michelle in you, and when I look at your kids I see my kids, and when I look at your grandparents I see my grandparents, and because of the values we share I believe in you," Obama said. "And I hope you still believe in me."