RICHMOND, Va. – In order to move “forward,” the Obama campaign reached backward on Saturday, trying to rekindle the magic of the 2008 campaign.

For the second time on Saturday, during his second official campaign rally, President Obama sought to push a new campaign slogan “Forward,” telling those gathered at Virginia Commonwealth University that the country can’t afford to elect Mitt Romney and move backward to the Bush administration’s “failed” policies.


“Virginia, we’ve gotta move forward to the future you imagined in 2008,” Obama said, standing near a large banner that read “Forward," before a crowd of 8,000 people, who held signs saying “Not Back” in a packed gymnasium. “Virginia, I’m here to say, we were there, we remember and we’re not going back.”

The reelection campaign aimed to remind voters about the winning campaign in 2008.

Like he did at the Columbus, Ohio, rally earlier in the day, Obama reminded voters that he still believes in “hope and change.”

Obama told the crowd that when people ask what this campaign is about, “You tell them it’s still about hope. You tell them it’s still about change.”

During the rally, the campaign also tried to bring back their old rallying cry: “Fired Up, Ready to Go.” And songs like Stevie Wonder’s Sign Sealed Delivered, a staple from Obama’s first campaign, wailed over the loudspeakers.

The president also aimed to land some direct hits on his likely opponent Mitt Romney — on everything from foreign policy to the way he would handle the economy — something he had largely avoided until Saturday. 

Obama said the U.S. cannot afford to "refight the battles" on health care, economic reform and women's rights.

The U.S. will spend "the next four years going backward" on issues of abortion rights and birth control if Romney is elected in November, according to the president. "We are not turning back the clock, we are going forward," Obama said to thunderous applause. 

For the second time on Saturday, Obama, his voice growing more hoarse as the speech wore on, also cranked up his populist pitch, touting his support for the middle class and took jabs at Romney by saying all Americans should be able to afford a college education “no matter who you are.” 

“Corporations aren’t people,” Obama said, hitting the former Massachusetts governor for the second time of the day. “People are people.”

But the Romney campaign quickly pushed back.

“No matter how many lofty campaign speeches President Obama gives, the fact remains that American families are still struggling on his watch: to pay their bills find a job and keep their homes,” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman said in a statement. “While President Obama all but ignored his record over three and a half years in office, the American people won’t.

“This November, they will hold him accountable for his broken promises and ineffective leadership,” Saul said.

Throughout the speech, both Obamas reached back to the 2008 campaign and it’s catch phrases “hope and change.”

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The crowd in Virginia, a state with a large military presence, came alive when Obama pledged his continued support for U.S. troops returning home from Afghanistan.

"No one who who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home," the president declared.

During the speech, the President touted the fact that for the first time in nearly a decade, no American troops are fighting in Iraq. Under his administration, Obama also repeated, al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed and the U.S. has set a firm deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

"America is safer and more respected because of the courage and strength of our armed forces," Obama said.

Updated at 6:40 p.m.