President Barack Obama told an enthusiastic, if steamy crowd this afternoon that the election "isn't just about two candidates or two parties--it's about two fundamentally different visions for America."
Speaking at Carnegie Mellon University, he laid out campaign themes he's been hitting on his "Betting On America" bus tour.
He got big applause when he said, "Why would we want to go backward to the same theory that didn't work before?" and "The Supreme Court has spoken, the law we passed is here to stay."
A crowd of about 6,500 gathered on the College of Fine Arts lawn. At least 13 people were treated for heat exhaustion as temperatures stood in the high 90s.
The president discussed his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, telling his listeners, "Over the next four months, you're going to see more money spent than at any time in history. These guys are writing $10 million checks."
He emphasized helping the middle class, rebuilding American companies, and put in a word for the first-place Pirates -- pointing out that the Chicago White Sox are also in first place. He said for now the fans of both teams could cheer each other on, but in the World Series, it's every man for himself.
Earlier, cookies were the cheeky theme of the day as Mr. Obama rolled along toward Pittsburgh.
Mr. Obama's motorcade stopped traffic in the Beaver County seat at 12:44 p.m., as car drivers leaned out their windows to shoot cell phone video of the passing caravan of SUVs, buses and armored cars. About 75 locals pressed against police tape as the president climbed out of his black tour bus outside Kretchmar's Bakery on Third Street.
"I'll be right back. I just have to get pie first," Mr. Obama said.
On the way to Beaver from Poland, Ohio, the president's campaign announced it would provide cookies from Bethel Bakery to the press, cookies that Mr. Romney had briefly snubbed during a campaign visit in the spring. Outside the bakery in this old industrial town -- full of union-friendly Democrats -- Mr. Obama's chief political advisor David Axelrod said "there are good cookies in Pittsburgh. We like the cookies in Pittsburgh."
There were help wanted signs affixed to front window, one saying: "Sales person wanted. 3-5 days a week. Fri-Sat a must. Apply inside." Another advertised a cleaning crew opening. Inside an oversized rolling pin was affixed to the wall painted with the words "Since 1960."
Inside Mr. Obama asked third generation bakery owner Lincoln Kretchmar, 36, which pies he had. Answer: coconut creme, lemon merengue and apple. He shopped for all three and cookies for the press bus. (Price was $13.20, he paid with $20 bill and left the change.)
He asked Mr. Kretchmar how business was going. "It's not great, but it's not bad. We're holding our own," the bakery owner told Mr. Obama.
Mr. Obama then came outside to work the line of residents for about 10 minutes. One was Dave Panella, 62, of Chippewa, who works at the Beaver Supermarket. "Yeah I voted for him, and I'd vote for him again," the Democrat said.
Earlier, Mr. Obama traveled to Boardman, Ohio, just south of Youngstown, where he toured Summer Garden Food Manufacturing, a food manufacturing facility that's expanding and creating jobs.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, followed with a double-barreled campaign speech in which he lauded Mr. Obama's efforts to help the auto industry and the impact that has had on local Chevrolet dealers, steelmakers and other industries.
"Barack Obama stuck his neck out and the Mahoning Valley is back to work because of this president," Mr. Ryan said. "You see the ripple effect throughout our community."
He did not mention Mr. Romney by name but claimed his policies would "turn the clock back not to 1920 but to 1820."
The crowd -- largely middle aged and racially diverse -- waited about 25 minutes for Mr. Obama to enter at the back of gym, dressed in a blue dress shirt and tan slacks.
He was far into his campaign address before addressing this morning's jobs report from the Labor Department, which showed the unemployment rate remained at 8.2 percent nationwide for a second month and the economy added 75,000 jobs in the April-June quarter.
There has been some jobs growth since he took office in 2009, Mr. Obama said, but "We can't be satisfied because our goal was never to keep on working to get back to where we were in 2007. I want to get back to a time when people in the middle class had some basic security ... We have to tap into the basic character of our country."
Tim McNulty: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1581. Peter Sullivan contributed. First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 PM