Now they’re passing around the text and video of Obama’s Labor Day speech. The president has tested out the themes and jokes he used in the Milwaukee speech in previous venues (usually partisan fundraisers). What seemed to make it work in front of the crowd of 10,000 was his level of engagement. Democratic voters need to believe that they can keep control of Congress despite the bad poll numbers. Obama, who is taking a pounding in the polls, looked like a man who had a secret to the comeback. He sounded like a happy warrior, laughing at his jokes before he’d told them. He even did voices, embellishing his tale about Republicans who drove the economy into the ditch. “We’re sweating, and these guys were watching us and sipping on a Slurpee,” he said to crowd laughter before impersonating his uptight GOP opponents. “And they’re pointing at us and saying ‘How come you’re not pushing harder?'”…

Obama did more in the speech than offer laughs, though. He appealed to the crowd’s emotions. He talked about the firefighters, teachers, and police officers whose jobs were saved by the Recovery Act. When he talked about people without a job, he spoke about helping the less fortunate in ways that echoed his speech to the House Democrats before the health care vote. “Those are the folks I got into politics for,” he told the crowd. “You are the reason I’m here.”