(CBS News/AP) MAUMEE, Ohio --Kicking off a two-day bus tour of northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, President Obama said Thursday in a campaign speech that he was betting that Americans wouldn't lose interest or heart in the upcoming election despite a political stalemate in Congress.
In his remarks at the Maumee Walcott Museum just outside Toledo, Mr. Obama described a political system at a crossroads and argued that his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, would pursue economic policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. The president said he was willing to work with "anybody who believes that we're in this together."
"I'm not a Democrat first, I'm an American first," Mr. Obama said at a quintessential campaign scene, an early 19th-century museum complex dotted with red-white-and-blue bunting and American flags.
The president used the Ohio setting to feature two of Romney's biggest liabilities: his opposition to the 2008 auto industry bailout, and a recent controversial Washington Post article claiming that Romney's private equity company, Bain Capital, outsourced jobs overseas. Taking a tough stance on trade, the president announced his administration is levying a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization for imposing new duties on U.S.-made automobiles - including the Ohio-made Jeep Wrangler.
"Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called 'pioneers of outsourcing' - that's not my phrase - 'pioneers of outsourcing,'" Mr. Obama told the crowd. "My experience has been in saving the American auto industry.
In his first campaign event since the Supreme Court's decision a week ago to uphold his health care law, Mr. Obama also defended his sweeping changes to the system: "The law I passed is here to stay," he said. "It is going to make the vast majority of Americans more secure."
Mr. Obama's campaign events are being bracketed by Romney supporters at events near some of his stops. Earlier Thursday, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., spoke in Maumee, to counter the president's message.
Meantime, Toledo mayor Michael Bell, an independent, told CBS News the water is warm for Mr. Obama in the area: "This is a Democratic base here, and there probably still is a large amount of support for the president of the United States," he said. He also nodded to a spike in job growth resultant of Chrysler's decision to hire 1,100 workers, and GM's to hire another 800.
The aptly named "Betting on America" tour will, over the next two days, visit regions that have been kind to the president in the past, but which will be critical to secure again in November.
"There are some folks who are betting that you will lose interest, that are betting that somehow you are going to lose heart. But here you are in the heat," Obama said, wearing a gray short-sleeved shirt on a steamy, sunny day that forced him to wipe away sweat that dripped down his face. "I'm betting you're not going to lose interest. I'm betting you're not going to lose heart. I still believe on you, I'm betting on you. And the country is betting on you Ohio."
The Associated Press and CBS News' Brian Montopoli contributed to this report.