Obama singled out swimmer Michael Phelps for earning the "most medals we've ever seen."
"I have to tell you, when I'm watching -- when people run track, I understand, I know how to run. They're just much faster," Obama said to appreciative laughter from the crowd before launching into his standard stump speech at Mansfield Central Park. "And I know how to swim -- they just swim much better than I do. These gymnastics folks -- I don't understand how they do what they do. So I told these young ladies as I was congratulating them, how do you not bust your head every time you're on that little balance beam? I couldn't walk across that balance beam."
Obama arrived in Ohio as a new Quinnipiac University poll indicated he's leading presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the Buckeye State as well as in neighboring Pennsylvania and Florida.
Air Force One landed at Mansfield Lahm National Guard base, which Republicans pointed out is threatened by the budget cuts set to be imposed if Congress doesn't act on reducing the deficit. The base is home for four C-27J transport planes due to be eliminated. En route to Mansfield, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration is committed to finding another mission for the base.
"Only hours before President Obama campaigns in Ohio, the White House is suddenly 'committed' to saving an Ohio National Guard base it was unaware of [Tuesday]," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said. "Hundreds of job losses threatening a community couldn't get the president's attention, but the prospect for a bad campaign event has the White House scrambling."
Obama used his appearance to once again hammer Romney's tax plan and urged Congress to go along with the more balanced approach he has been advocating, which would eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts for incomes that exceed $250,000.
"Now, despite the evidence, the entire centerpiece of my opponent's economic plan is a new, $5 trillion tax cut on top of the Bush tax cuts," Obama said.
"Now, the bulk of this tax cut would go to the very top. ... Now, think about that. Folks making $3 million a year or more would get a quarter-of-a-million-dollar tax cut.
"But, listen, it gets worse. Under my opponent's plan, who do you think gets the bill for these $250,000 tax cuts? You do. ... [A]n independent group ran the numbers. They found that if Governor Romney wants to keep his word and pay for this plan, then he'd have to cut tax breaks that middle-class families depend on to pay for your home -- the home mortgage deduction -- to pay for your healthcare -- the healthcare deduction -- to send your kids to college. That means the average middle-class family with children, according to this study, would be hit with a tax increase of more than $2,000."
Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chen discounted the analysis.
"This is just another biased study from a former Obama staffer that ignores critical parts of Governor Romney's tax reform program, which will help the middle class and promote faster economic growth," Chen said. "The study analyzes only half of Governor Romney's tax program, ignoring the reforms that would make America's corporations more competitive by moving from the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world to one that is comparable to our trading partners."
Obama made a second stop in Akron, where he address about 3,000 people.
Before heading for Akron, Obama stopped at the Squirrel's Den fudge shop where he picked up a box of chocolates for his wife.