"The president's got his work cut out for him here. It's not one to be marked over into his column by any stretch of the imagination," said Rob Tully, a former Iowa state party chairman. "But this state could easily go back into the president's column if there's commonsense decisions made between now and November."
Republicans were countering Obama on multiple fronts. Ahead of Obama's visit, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, called the president's tax plan another attempt to "divide people one against another based on class warfare. The very people we need to invest and create jobs are afraid to because they're afraid their taxes are going up."
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was shadowing Obama in Cedar Rapids with a news conference where he planned to accuse the president of wasting taxpayer money on stimulus programs that he said created jobs overseas. It aimed to rebut criticism from Democrats that Romney's former private equity firm did business with companies that shifted jobs to lower-wage countries to cut costs.
Romney was holding fundraisers in Colorado and planned to discuss energy policies on Tuesday in Grand Junction, Colo., an oil town in the western part of the state. The former Massachusetts governor held a closed-door fundraiser Monday night in Aspen, where between 300 and 400 guests gave about $2.4 million, according to the campaign.
Guests in Ferraris, Bentleys and Porsches drove down a private gravel road past a horse ranch to valet park outside the sprawling stone private home. Romney's staff set up speakers blaring music outside of the tent set up in the backyard, noise that prevented reporters on the public sidewalk outside from hearing any of Romney's remarks.
Romney's event in Grand Junction carried some symbolic meaning. It was the site of an August 2009 Obama rally where he focused on selling his national health care plan to the American people.
Hunt reported from Aspen, Colo. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont contributed from Des Moines, Iowa.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.