From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
KNOXVILLE, IA -- Obama loves his Republicans. He makes an open pitch for GOP voters in his stump speeches, even as he calls them out in his stump speeches, saying he can beat Mitt and Rudy and Huckabee. At a town hall in Knoxville today, he threw in Ron Paul. "They don't poll Ron Paul, but I can beat him too."
But there's one Republican whom he seems to have a little more affection for than most. Obama frequently makes fun of Romney on the stump, joking about illegal aliens working on his Romney's yard. And today, he was given permission by a Republican deciding between Obama and Romney to draw some "contrasts."
"Mitt Romney is a very handsome guy. He's taller than me. I was listening to an interview this morning and somebody asked him if he's ever cursed. He said of course, but not the real harsh ones. I have to tell you -- I've used the harsh ones, the really juicy ones," Obama told the crowd, laughing.
He went on to contrast himself with all the Republicans in the field, saying he believes in fiscal restraint "unlike the Republican orthodoxy."
Obama was introduced by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who told the crowd that Obama could win voters in states as red as his.
The event was largely similar to the packed town halls that Obama has had over the past few weeks, giving his re-tooled stump speech and taking around four questions.
Obama did throw in an extra line to the Bill Clinton quote he's been using frequently on the trail, saying "There's a right kind of experience and a wrong kind of experience..."
Telling the crowd who gave the quote, he answered, "A guy named Bill Clinton, who now talks about the roll of the dice. You know Bill Clinton was right then, and I'm right now."
In an interview with Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson after the event, Obama said that when he talks about "risks" and "gambles" and "stakes" in his stump speeches, he is referring to Clinton's comments on Charlie Rose, in which the former president said that voting for Obama would be a risk akin to "rolling the dice."
"I mean President Clinton argues that it would somehow be risky to elect me. This is a theme that ironically George H.W. Bush used against Bill Clinton back in 1992," Obama said.