CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA -- Barack Obama kicked off the second day of his Iowa bus tour this morning with a town hall meeting in Monticello a roundtable discussion in Cedar Rapids.
At the roundtable discussion with five Iowa voters, he presented an economic plan which he calls Reclaiming the American Dream and told the group that new leadership is needed to change what he calls the "can't-do-won't do attitude" in Washington.
"I am running for president not to conform to conventional thinking," Obama said, "I'm running to challenge the conventional thinking."
The most poignant part of the discussion was with Katherine Marcano, a 22-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic who is also a student at Kirkwood College and works overnights at FedEx loading boxes on planes. She also cares for a sister with cerebral palsy. Marcano told Obama that she sleeps an average of three hours a night and catches up on the weekends.
"How do you stay awake in class seriously," Obama asked. Marcano said that she relies on "tricks." "I am always carrying coffee and energy drinks, I do whatever tricks I know."
Obama told Marcano that he is proud of her work. "We're going to make sure that you can go to college," Obama said, "You need to be trained. You obviously have a lot of ambition which is good."
After the roundtable, Obama met with Marcano's family and posed for pictures.
Earlier in Monticello, a small town located in the center of eastern Iowa, a couple of hundred people turned out, despite the frigid temperatures.
Change remained the dominant message during Obama's remarks. "It's not enough just to change political parties in the White House, we've got change how business is done in Washington," Obama said, "If we want real, meaningful change, then we've gotta change our politics."
During Q & A, Obama talked about his efforts to take on lobbyists. He told the audience about a Democratic colleague in the Illinois state senate who did not agree with a new meal ban rule. Obama said the colleague asked him if he is supposed to eat at McDonald's now.
"A lot of people in America do eat in McDonalds and you make $160,000 a year," Obama told the man, "If you want, you can go to Bennigans or Applebees."
Obama also spoke about the need to improve veterans care. "Nothing steams me up more than folks talking about how patriotic they are and then when veterans come home, they vote against funding to take care of veterans."
The most unusual question came from a local woman who asked what can be learned from Norway. The Senator said this the first time during the campaign that he has been asked him about Norway, "I am very impressed."
He went on talk about Norway's progress on energy conservation. "They are much smarter using the money that they get from oil revenues to re-invest in energy efficiency," Obama said.