Senator Tom Harkin speaks before President Obama Tuesday.

While one party has traditionally laid low during the other’s convention, that wasn’t the case Tuesday as Democrat President Barrack Obama made a campaign visit to Ames while the Republican convention got underway in Florida.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was the only state Democrat to talk during Obama’s appearance Tuesday. Harkin is a graduate of Iowa State University and got students going before the president appeared on the outdoor stage.

“So my friends, there’s a big week ahead of us. On Saturday the Cyclones kick of the march to the Big 12 (football) championship by beating Tulsa,” Harkin said to cheers from the students.

“And next Monday, Labor Day, America begins its spring to Election Day. So, my friends, we all know the stakes of this election are very high.”

Harkin told the students that while many presidents have tried to claim the title of Education President, his fellow Democrat can truly claim it for his efforts to increase federal grants to students and the effort to cut student loan interest rates. Harkin said his roots were much like Obama’s when it comes to education.

“My father had a sixth grade education, my mother was an immigrant, we had no money. But I had a Navy scholarship, ROTC then I used the G-I bill to go to law school. So I want to thank all you taxpayers for my education,” Harkin said. Obama also played to the student audience, opening with a reference to football.

“Cyclone football kicks off at home this Saturday,” the president said and the crowd cheered. “I won’t pretend I can give a speech like coach (Paul) Rhoads can, but I am going to try.”

Obama focused heavily on encouraging the students to get out and vote for him in November, but he also hit on some recurring campaign themes.

One was the renewal of the wind energy tax credit. He said the renewable energy jobs are important to the U.S. economy, and criticized his opponents. “Governor (Mitt) Romney called those imaginary, Congressman (Paul) Ryan said they’re a fade. Let me tell you something, they need to come to Iowa, because they’re the future, they’re worth fighting for,” Obama said.

“Nearly seven thousand good Iowa jobs depend on the wind industry. It’s time to stop giving four billion dollars of taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that are making a profit every time you pump gas. Let’s give it to home-grown energy sources that have never been more promising.”

Obama also referenced the Republican convention going on in Tampa, Florida. He said the audience could expect to hear a lot of bad things about him. “What you won’t hear from them is a path forward that meets challenges of our time. Instead it will be an economic plan that says if you just give folks making three-million dollars a year or more another 250-thousand dollar tax cut, then jobs and prosperity will magically rain down on everybody else,” according to Obama.

The president also touched on other campaign themes, including health care and support of gay marriage. Obama and Romney are virtually tied in Iowa according to the polls. Obama will return to Iowa Saturday for events in Des Moines and Sioux City.

 See pictures from the President’s campaign stop below: