The comment was a slap at his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, who drew heat this week for a video from a May fundraiser in which he said 47 percent of Americans view themselves as victims, look to the government to support them and won't vote for him.
"Top-down economics never works," Obama said. "The country doesn't succeed when only the folks at the very top are doing well. We succeed when the middle class is doing well."
"We can't get very far if we're writing off half the country as victims. ... Wherever I travel folks are working hard. ... People understand we're responsible for ourselves, but people also understand we have obligations to one another."
Obama also referred to the outbreak of violence in the Middle East and elsewhere over an anti-Muslim video surfaced, saying it shows "this is still a world full of threats."
"We have to make sure we prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon a.. and we must go after folks who threaten and kill Americans," he said.
Obama made an unscheduled stop at Usingers Fine Sausage, a local delicatessen founded in 1880, where he ran into some people from Ohio, considered a swing state along with Wisconsin. The president helped them spell out O-H-I-O with their arms before ordering a kielbasa, an Italian sausage and a hot sausage.
Outside, an employee of another sausage company across the street presented Obama with a hot bratwurst sandwich, which he sampled and described as tasty.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters covering the president the polls show Romney and Obama close in Wisconsin because Republicans were well-organized after the Gov. Scott Walker recall election.
"It would make sense they're strong here, as are we," Messina said, adding campaign officials remain confident Obama can win in the swing states despite tight polls.
"We're either tied or in the lead in every battleground state 45 days out. I think you will see a tightening in the national polls going forward," he said. "What I care way more about it Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, etc. In those states, I feel our pathways to victory are there. There are two different campaigns, one in the battlegrounds and one everywhere else. That's why the national polls aren't relevant to this campaign."
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the campaign released a new web video attacking Romney on his taxes.
She said it was troubling Romney "pays a lower rate than most middle-class families because of a set of complex loopholes and tax shelters, and raised more questions than provided answers."
Some of those questions, she said, were: "Why were more than 65 percent of pages related to overseas investments? Why did he have investments in a Chinese oil company? Why did have dozens of foreign accounts and millions stashed away in tax havens like the Cayman Islands? So those are questions that it's in his power to answer."