RICHMOND, the United States, May 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday held his first official campaign rallies in Columbus, Ohio and Richmond, Virginia, delivering two almost identical fiery speeches attacking Republican policies and pledging to bring the country forward if he is reelected.
"Four years ago, you and I began a journey together, not just to win an election ... We came to reclaim the basic bargain that built the biggest middle class in the world," said Obama at his rally in the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
The president made plenty of reference to his new campaign slogan "Forward," which premiered in a seven-minute campaign video aired during the past week.
"We gotta move forward to the future we imagined in 2008," said the president to his supporters holding blue signs that read " Forward" and red ones that read "Not Back."
Directly criticizing his likely Republican opponent Mitt Romney by name, Obama took a shot at the presumptive GOP nominee's remarks during the GOP primary. "Corporations aren't people. People are people," said the president, in a clear reference to an earlier comment by Romney.
"We remember, we were there, and we are not going back!" said Obama.
"We believe the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history," said Obama. "But we also believe that at its best, the free market has never been a license to take whatever you want, however you can get it ... America only prospers when we meet our obligations to one another and to future generations."
Obama held his first two campaign rallies in the battleground states of Ohio and Virginia, both of which he carried in 2008. Polls show he and Romney are in dead heat in Ohio, but he leads by a comfortable margin in Virginia, which is in a relatively good shape economically.
Danny Cotlow, a 53-year-old IT specialist from Vienna, VA, told Xinhua at the Richmond rally that he expects Obama to do well head to head against Romney. He said Obama "cares for us as a people" and has good initiatives that would "get this country going again, " while Romney despite his business credentials "has no understanding of the middle class, or people in need."
The president's plea for more time to implement change has also had an impact on his supporters. Gwendolyn Parham, a retired university professor who lives in Richmond, said she doesn't think there was enough change in the past four years, but the blame was on the Republicans.
"I think he (Obama) needs to be left alone to focus on doing his job as a president, which I think he has done a good job doing, " said Parham, adding that she believes Obama "needs a more positive working environment."
Both of the Saturday rallies were attended by thousands of mostly fired-up supporters of the president, who offered thunderous applause and kept chanting "Four More Years" during his remarks.