President Obama’s jobs tour: what to expect
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
President Obama is leaving Washington Monday for a three-day bus tour across the Midwest, where he’ll talk directly with voters about the economy and jobs.
The campaign-style bus tour will take the president to rural towns in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois — three states that he won during the 2008 election that are crucial for his reelection prospects. Though the places Obama will be visiting won’t necessarily be bustling Latino population centers, Latino voters still have a reason to stay tuned.
Like the general population, the economy and jobs are top issues for Latinos. Unemployment in July for Latinos was 11.3 percent, higher than the 9.1 percent overall rate. Median household wealth for Latinos dropped 66 percent between 2005 and 2009, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, the steepest decline among any demographic group.
There’s also a desire among all voters, including Latinos, for Obama to hear their concerns on the economy: 43 percent of the voting bloc believes that officials in Washington don’t take their concerns into account very much when creating economic policy, according to a impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll released Monday.
Obama so far has proposed some modest job-creation initiatives in recent weeks, such as extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, and promised a broader agenda during a speech last week. But Obama is not expected to roll out many specifics on his bus tour.
Instead, he’s expected to offer broad outlines of his goals and criticize Congress for the gridlock in Washington directly to voters outside the nation’s capital.
“Many Americans are hurting badly right now. Many have been unemployed for too long. Putting these men and women back to work, and growing wages for everyone, has got to be our top priority,” Obama said during his weekly address this weekend. “But lately, the response from Washington has been partisanship and gridlock that’s only undermined public confidence and hindered our efforts to grow the economy.”
Obama also briefed members of the Hispanic press last week, saying that despite the country’s economic woes, his plan is more responsive to Latino’s concerns that the Republicans’.
But the tour comes at a time when Obama’s being put on the ropes politically over the sputtering economic recovery, high jobless rate and Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the nation’s credit rating.
Republican presidential candidates railed against the president’s economic policies during this past weekend’s Iowa Straw Poll, and they continued their offensive against Obama’s bus tour. The Republican National Committee launched a web ad, and local radio spots Monday, knocking the “taxpayer-funded tour” as a political stunt.
“As he drives into the horizon, angry skies meet us. This man is Barack Obama: welcome to his taxpayer-funded ‘Debt-End Tour,’” the narrator says in the web ad.
Meanwhile, polls show that Obama is struggling to win over Independent voters who supported him in 2008. His job approval rating fell to 39 percent on Monday, a new low in Gallup’s daily tracking poll.
Though the Democratic Party’s base appears to be behind Obama, vocal Democrats have clamored for Obama to go back on the offensive in the wake of the Straw Poll and the debt-ceiling debate that concluded earlier this month.
The president’s bus tour gives him a chance to do just that by provide counter-messaging to Iowa voters who gave him their state’s electoral votes three years ago and appeal to Independents by rebuking Washington and striking a message of bipartisanship.
“So you’ve got a right to be frustrated. I am. Because you deserve better. And I don’t think it’s too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town start delivering,” Obama said in his address. “If you’ve had it with gridlock, and you want them to pass stalled bills that will help our economy right now – let them know.”