Obama headed to Midwest to talk jobs

Saturday, August 13, 2011 | 3:26 p.m. CDT; updated 7:16 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 13, 2011
In this photo taken Aug. 11, 2011, President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Johnson Controls Inc., in Holland, Mich. Positioning himself on the side of the public and against a Congress with abysmal approval ratings after the bitter debt limit fight, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, "I don't think it's too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town start delivering."

WASHINGTON — Trading Washington's hot house for states critical to his re-election prospects, President Barack Obama is headed to the Midwest after a summer of discontent over a protracted debt showdown with Republicans and the downgrade in the nation's credit rating.

Obama's bus tour, his first as president, begins Monday and will take him to prairie communities in Minnesota and through Iowa and Illinois, with stops in the farmland and rural towns that launched his first White House bid.

The former Illinois senator is expected to tell audiences that he agrees with their frustrations about a dysfunctional federal government.

"What we've seen in Washington the last few months has been the worst kind of partisanship, the worst kind of gridlock — and that gridlock has undermined public confidence and impeded our efforts to take the steps we need for our economy," Obama said Thursday in Michigan. "It's made things worse instead of better."

Obama won a clean sweep in 2008 of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, a region that has supported Democratic presidential candidates since 2000, except for President George W. Bush's narrow victory in Iowa in 2004.

But Obama's standing in these states, like elsewhere, has grown precarious as the economy has slumped.

Republican governors are now in charge in three of those five states and Obama's approval rating, as measured by Gallup, is hovering around 50 percent in most of the region.

"We got a president who got a decrease in the credit rating of our nation, and that's because our president simply doesn't understand how to lead and how to grow an economy," Republican hopeful Mitt Romney said in Thursday's Iowa debate.

Romney and his GOP rivals blamed Obama for the growth of the federal deficit and the credit downgrade by Standard and Poor's, the first in the nation's history.

The GOP race intensified with Texas Gov. Rick Perry's entry Saturday. When Obama arrives at a town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa, on Monday afternoon, Perry intends to meet with voters in eastern Iowa, about 100 miles away.

Nationally, Obama's approval rating is comparable to President Ronald Reagan's ratings in August 1983. But recent Gallup polls found that Obama's approval rating was hovering between 44 percent and 49 percent in 10 states closely watched by his political advisers. Those states include Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida.

Obama's standing with independents, who helped him win in traditionally Republican states such as Indiana and North Carolina, has fallen, too.

"The country is in an unbelievably angry mood," said Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg.

Most presidents like to get away from the nations' capital, and this excursion couldn't come at a better time.

As a candidate, Obama said he would tame Washington's gridlock. Yet it was political paralysis that scuttled his quest for a "grand bargain" with congressional Republicans on increasing the country's borrowing limit and forced him to agree to smaller spending cuts without higher taxes on the rich, as he demanded.

Days later, Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating and stocks on Wall Street plummeted, undermining confidence in an economic turnaround. The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that economic growth had been "considerably slower" than expected this year and outlined a glum forecast.

Obama will have a tough sales job on the road. Unemployment is high, foreclosures are rampant and Wall Street is jittery.

While considered official White House travel, the bus tour will put Obama in campaign-like settings with small-business owners and workers in rural areas.

If 2008 was about hope and change, 2012 may be about hard-knuckle politics. Behind the scenes, Obama advisers are planning to draw sharp contrasts with some of the leading Republicans.

Yet Obama also finds himself under pressure from the left to generate jobs and raise taxes on the wealthy.

Most Democrats, said's Justin Ruben, "have not been offering a clear prescription for actually getting the economy moving."

Obama told workers in Michigan that he plans to roll out more economic plans "that will help businesses hire and put people back to work." That's an approach Democrats hope will set the tone for next year's election in the Midwest and beyond.



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Bob Wilson August 13, 2011 | 10:21 p.m.

What good is talk. Thats all this guy who is you people's president ever does. Glad he's not mine. My family's been here since 1740 and some relative has always been in the military. This is the first time in our history here that we don't have a president (A joke instead). This Barry fellow is a puppet. Most people don't even know his biggest donor in his last election was Saudi Arabia. "Jobs"? What a joke. I have written to all the major political parties and the only candidate who is interested, and responded was Herman Cain. I suggested when we make our next tarif adjustment, we make one requirment. All product entering the US be taxed (tarifed) at the rate as if they paid the equivalent of US minimum wage to produce these goods. Instead they pay poor souls $1.50 to $12.00 per day to work 12 hour days. What a joke. If they had to pay these people even minimum wage 12,000,000 jobs would be back here in 4 years or less.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 13, 2011 | 11:06 p.m.

Hey Bob, got any proof about that Saudi Arabia claim?

And your tariff idea will increase costs on American consumers without making an iota of difference to those importing companies. If they pay the same price for US labor vs. foreign labor with a tariff, they'll choose overseas every time.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 14, 2011 | 7:43 p.m.

I think the idea that Barack Obama is a puppet for the Saudi regime is really interesting. It explains so much--for example, Obama's radical environmentalist agenda. (Did you know he actually *believes* in that crackpot "global warming" crap?) Bob, please tell us more!

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 14, 2011 | 8:27 p.m.

University of California employees donated the most to Obama. Goldman Sachs was No. 2.

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 14, 2011 | 8:47 p.m.

"(Did you know he actually *believes* in that crackpot "global warming" crap?)"

I would submit that, no he does not believe the global warming crap. He believes rather in the billions of dollar revenue that would be collected for Government, if enough Congressional legislators could be enticed to vote for the repulsive tax laws that A. Gore and the others continually tell us are the only measure that can stop the warming and "save our planet".

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 15, 2011 | 7:10 a.m.


(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 15, 2011 | 8:14 a.m.

Say, you don't believe that Frank believes that which he spouts. Do you?

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 15, 2011 | 9:37 a.m.

hey B, this is the Show-Me State. What you got? Oh that's right, just talk. Can you show us a balanced budget or the work-in-progress? We believe in balanced budgets here in Missouri. How 'bout we show you what's left of our portfolios after your policies have knocked the wind out of our economy. Then we can show you the door!
BTW don't tell us how you plan to fix the partisan bickering when you set the mood for that with you us against them. Remember the speech to the hispanics about supporting you and not 'the enemy'. Your only hope is that the nation is comprised of more takers than givers.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 15, 2011 | 10:01 a.m.

"How 'bout we show you what's left of our portfolios after your policies have knocked the wind out of our economy."

I'm an independent, and my portfolio is just fine. On paper, I lost $20K over the past two weeks, but I'm sure I'll make that back quickly, just as I recovered my on-paper losses from 2008 -- and then some.

Invest for the long term and understand that the market will always be cyclical no matter who's in office. If anything, consider downturns such as this month's as a big sale on stocks.

Now if you're close to retirement, you should already have moved your investments into the least risky vehicles, regardless of the economy or political environment. That's investing 101. Does it suck that CDs currently pay ~1%? Sure, it does. But if you're entering retirement now, and you had CDs in the 1970s and 1980s, you also did quite well when they were paying double digits. Such is life.

(Report Comment)

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