Critiquing Republican Field, Obama Dodges Names

Critiquing Republican Field, Obama Dodges Names

President Obama at North High School in Des Moines on Monday.Mr. Obama seemed a little nostalgic for the days.

DES MOINES — He may not be a candidate anymore, but President Obama could not help wading a bit into the high-octane campaign to succeed him on Monday, urging the state that holds the nation’s first caucuses to vote against candidates who rail against teachers or fail to support adequate federal financing for public education.

Returning to the state that propelled his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama seemed a little nostalgic for the days when he wandered the towns and schools of Iowa seeking support — more innocent days when all still seemed possible, before the travails of nearly seven years in office, the days when, as he joked, he had no gray hair.

He flew here to meet up with a bus tour by his education secretary and hold a town-hall-style meeting on education policy. But he could not help noticing a hotel near the airport where, he said, he had stayed maybe 100 days in 2007 and 2008 and must still have frequent-customer points. He noted there were “a bunch of folks who want this job,” but added with a laugh, “I just can’t imagine what kind of person would want to put themselves through something like this.”

Speaking at North High School in Des Moines, Mr. Obama was asked to weigh in about the current candidates and started to beg off. “On this one, I’m going to wiggle around a little bit,” he said. “Right now, I’m going to try to stay out of the campaign season, partly because I can’t keep track of all the candidates.”

He made no mention of those running for the nomination of his own party, like former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, or one possible candidate, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.