By BEN FELLER, Associated Press
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — President Barack Obama was traveling solo during his first campaign bus tour, but his family wasn't too far behind — in his words, at least.
Obama emphasized his biography during his campaign bus tour in northern Ohio, mentioning his grandfather's service in the military during World War II, his mother's insistence that he finish his homework, and his wooing of first lady Michelle Obama. The stories were aimed at relating to Ohio voters, arguably the most important electorate in the nation.
"In you, I see my own life and everything my parents and grandparents struggled for," Obama said at an ice cream social in Sandusky, a community on the shores of Lake Erie.
The president said his personal upbringing led him to politics, telling voters that his family's story was "all about this basic idea in America that if you work hard, you can make it if you try."
He talked about his grandfather who served in "Patton's Army" and then earned a college education through the GI Bill. He recalled that his grandparents bought their first home through the Federal Housing Administration and his grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line during World War II. "She was Rosie the Riveter," Obama said.
Obama said his mother raised him as a single parent but was someone who "on occasion gets on you when you're not doing your homework."
The president said his wife drew many of the same lessons. She was raised by a "blue-collar worker" father who made a living at a pumping station in Chicago and a mother who raised two children and then worked as a secretary.
After college and law school, Obama said he "met this beautiful woman who, just because I was persistent, finally gave up and gave in and decided to marry me."
Obama reported that his daughter Malia celebrated her 14th birthday on Independence Day. "It used to be that I could tell her that all the fireworks were for her. She doesn't believe me anymore," he said.
Even the family pooch got a mention: "Bo says hi," Obama said.
Obama is routinely asked to sign copies of his books, campaign posters and slips of paper at campaign events. But he has to draw a line when it comes to money.
During a stop at a restaurant in Oak Harbor, Ohio, a 5-year-old boy asked the president to sign a dollar bill, which put a president running for re-election in a weird position: He had to say no.
Obama told the boy he couldn't sign a dollar bill because that's considered defacing it. But he promised to find something else to sign.
The boy told Obama about his summer, including a trip to Disney World. Obama asked him about his favorite ride. "Goofy's roller coaster? Was it scary? You weren't scared at all?" Obama said.
Obama stopped at Bergman Orchards Farm Market in Port Clinton, a roadside storefront where employees wore T-shirts that said, "Take a peach to the beach."
Obama picked up a dozen ears of sweet corn, priced at $4.95 a dozen, and then checked out the peaches. The president asked members of the press corps if anyone wanted a peach, but received no takers. "You think a peach and I get a better column?" he responded, laughing.
When someone in the traveling entourage knocked over some cherries, Obama offered to buy them. "Just put them in a bag and we will wash them up," he said.
The bill came to $22.70. "That's a pretty good deal right there," Obama said.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
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