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Obama courts Virginia in last pre-convention stop

NORFOLK, VA -- President Barack Obama exhorted Virginians for their votes on Tuesday at his last campaign event before the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte.

Speaking at a rally in Norfolk, Va., President Obama says he'll try not to let his daughters see him cry tonight as he watches the first lady's speech at the Democratic National Convention. Watch his entire speech.

Previewing the speech he is set to deliver at the convention on Thursday night, the president said: "I will offer what I believe is a better path forward. A path that will create good jobs and strengthen our middle class and grow our economy."

Obama pointed to the policy changes he has made regarding health care, national security and the economy as reasons voters should give him a second term in office.

But the president also used his appearance in Norfolk to criticize the proposals of his Republican opponents as well.

“On issue after issue, Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan, they want to take us backwards. But the story of America is not about going backwards; its about going forwards,” the president said to a cheering crowd.

The Romney Campaign was quick to respond to the president’s speech. Spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement: "President Obama has found himself on the wrong side of the issues Virginian’s care about the most." The Romney campaign went on to say that “there is no doubt that Americans aren’t better off today than they were four years ago."

Mr. Obama’s speech at Norfolk State University comes only hours before his wife is scheduled to deliver a prime-time address tonight from the convention hall in North Carolina.

Mr. Obama said he would watch the speech at the White House with his two daughters.

Calling the first lady, “the star of the Obama Family,” the president said he would try not to let his daughters see him cry while she speaks.  But went on to acknowledge that may be difficult to do, saying, “When Michelle starts talking, I start getting all misty.”

The crowd at Norfolk State was made up predominately of African American college students, two key segments of his political base whom Mr. Obama hopes to re-energize and rally in the next eight weeks before the election. Twice during his remarks when the audience booed as he spoke about Governor Romney, the president responded, “Don’t boo, vote.”

The rally in Norfolk was the second trip to Virginia made by the president in less than a week. Recent polling suggests that Obama and Romney are statistically tied in the commonwealth, and, as a result, both men have dedicated tons of resources and made frequent visits to the state, hoping to capture its thirteen electoral votes this November. Governor Romney also traveled to Norfolk last month to announce Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.