Obama Starts Bus Tour With Lowest Rating


CANNON FALLS, Minn., Aug. 15 (UPI) — President Obama, his approval rating below 40 percent for the first time, hits the road Monday with a swing-state bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Gallup released its survey results Sunday at the end of a pivotal campaign weekend for Republicans, as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., won Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll, ending former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s White House quest, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race.

Obama kicks off his taxpayer-funded bus tour with a morning flight to Minneapolis and then a bus trip 35 miles south to Cannon Falls, Minn., a town of about 4,000 best known for the recording studio where the late Kurt Cobain’s grunge band Nirvana recorded in the early 1990s.

The purpose of Obama’s tour is to “discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation,” the White House said in a statement Sunday night.

Obama wants to “hear directly from Americans, including small-business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials” about their economic concerns and ideas for revitalization to restore “confidence in our nation’s future and enhance the sense of optimism for future generations,” the White House said.

Obama is to hold a town-hall meeting in a Cannon Falls park along the Cannon River about noon CDT (1 p.m. EDT) and then travel by bus 115 miles southeast into Iowa, where GOP presidential hopefuls had been busy cultivating support.

In Decorah, Iowa, a city of about 8,000, Obama will hold another town-hall meeting about 5:15 p.m. CDT at Seed Savers Exchange, an heirloom seeds and plants preservation organization.

The White House denied the itinerary was politically motivated. GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called the tour “an insult to the intelligence of every American.”

Obama was to spend the night in Decorah and travel Tuesday to Peosta, Iowa, near Dubuque and the junction of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, to host a Rural Economic Forum, the White House said.

The forum would “discuss the importance of growing small businesses and strengthening the middle class in rural America,” the White House said.

In his Saturday radio address, Obama said he intended over the coming weeks to “put forward more proposals to help our businesses hire and create jobs.”

“We can no longer let partisan brinkmanship get in our way,” Obama said, adding he rejected “the idea that making it through the next election is more important than making things right.”

Obama was to conclude the tour Wednesday with two town hall events in his home state of Illinois.

The Democratic president’s approval rating has dipped to 39 percent in Gallup’s latest survey. Another 54 percent said they disapproved of his performance, Gallup said.

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