SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: And I'm Scott Horsley traveling with the Obama campaign, where even though the slogan is Forward, the road keeps leading back to Iowa.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is where it all began for us four years ago...
OBAMA: ...right here in Iowa.
HORSLEY: This is the president's third campaign trip to Iowa in as many weeks, a big investment for a state with just six electoral votes. Campaign aides say it's because the contest is close here. And they believe Iowa voters respond to one-on-one campaigning.
Come on, Hawks.
That's why Mr. Obama dropped by the Point After sports bar in Sioux City last night, to order a pizza, shake some hands, and catch the third quarter of the University of Iowa football game.
OBAMA: How are you, sir.
RANDY: Good, nice to meet you.
OBAMA: What's your name?
OBAMA: Good to see you, Randy.
RANDY: Good to meet you, sir.
HORSLEY: Iowa was trailing Northern Illinois. But bartender Pam Lower didn't mind.
PAM LOWER: I told somebody, the president trumps the Iowa Hawkeyes.
HORSLEY: Western Iowa leans Republican, but Lower says she'll be voting for Mr. Obama in November.
LOWER: I just shook his hand and thanked him for bringing home the troops. Because he promised to bring home the troops, and he has brought a lot of them home.
HORSLEY: There are no more US troops in Iraq. And by month's end, the U.S. will have withdrawn all of its surge troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Obama blasted Mitt Romney for failing to mention Afghanistan during last week's Republican convention. The president says the plans Romney and his fellow Republicans did mention were just retreads of old trickle down economics.
OBAMA: Hey, they were going so far backwards, you might as well have watched it on black and white TV.
OBAMA: Put some rabbit ears on the convention hall.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama promised to offer what he called a better path forward at the Democratic convention this coming week. By the way, the Iowa Hawkeyes came back to win the football game yesterday, 18-17, in what probably won't be the last close contest this fall.
Scott Horsley, NPR News, Sioux City, Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.