President Obama outlined what he called a “better path” forward during a speech early this evening to about 8,000 Democrats gathered outside on the University of Iowa campus.

“When you see that sign that says forward, we don’t go forward without you,” Obama said. “Only you have that power and I’m depending on you to use that power. I’m asking you to make sure you don’t give up that power.”

Obama’s remarks in Iowa City were similar to his Thursday evening acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, but Obama extended his rap on Republicans for resorting to tax cuts as the solution to every problem.

“Tax cuts when times are good. Tax cuts when times are bad. Tax cuts to help you lose a few pounds. Tax cuts to improve your love life,” Obama said. “Whatever the issue, they’ve got one answer.”

Obama did not directly mention Friday’s jobs report which showed employers added 96,000 jobs for the month of August, but the labor force shrank by 368,000 — suggesting some unemployed Americans are simply ending their search for a job. Obama spoke in general terms about building the middle class and repeated his line from Thursday night that he had never promised the path forward would be easy. Obama countered that Republicans were “offering the same prescription” that had forced the economy into the “Great Recession” back in 2008.

“Now our friends at the Republican convention, they liked to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right,” Obama said. “They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan because they know you wouldn’t buy it because we tried it.”

Vice President Joe Biden also spoke to the crowd in Iowa City, offering a brief introduction that stressed the campaign’s one-word slogan.

“You folks in Iowa and you folks on campus know the president better than about anybody in any other state,” Biden said, “and you know he has only one gear: forward.”

During a wait of several hours through the afternoon, including a brief rain shower, the crowd amused themselves by doing the wave and chanting as the campaign pumped music into the outdoor space.  Some complained on Twitter that the playlist was too loaded with country music.

Over the noon-hour Friday Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney spoke to a capacity crowd of 2,600 in a gym on the Northwestern College campus in Orange City.

 Romney focused on the weak job-creation report for the month of August, calling it “simply unimaginable” and an indictment of President Obama’s management of the economy.