An overflow crowd greeted the president at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he appeared with his sleeves rolled up.
"This is going to be a close election," Obama declared as the crowd whooped and hollered.
Obama repeated much of what he has said before about the need to preserve Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 and allowing the cuts for those making more than that to expire. Expiration of the tax cuts would cost the average middle-class family of four about $2,200.
Inside, Obama repeated much of his standard stump speech, adding this campaign will be his last because "I've got nothing else to run for."
"This election will determine our economic future for the next generation. And, frankly, the choice could not be clearer," Obama said. "My opponent, his allies in Congress, they sincerely believe that prosperity comes from the top down."
Obama ran through the litany of where he and the GOP disagree on economic policy, wrapping up with "I think they're wrong. ... We tried it their way through most of the last decade, and it didn't work."
Before going to Kirkwood, Obama met with Ali and Jason McLaughlin, who worked on his campaign in 2008. Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters en route to Iowa the McLaughlins have benefited from $4,900 in tax cuts "from the president's plan, and they're very concerned, as millions of middle-class families are around the country, about their taxes going up if we don't extend middle-class tax cuts now."
Psaki also said likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's $5 trillion tax plan is aimed at "millionaires and billionaires."