Obama Launches Midwest Bus Tour

Posted August 15th, 2011 at 9:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is launching a three-state midwestern bus tour aimed at answering criticism that he has not done enough to improve the ailing economy.

The president begins the tour in St. Paul, Minnesota, Monday. He holds a town hall meeting in the town of Cannon Falls, south of St. Paul, expected to focus on ways to create jobs and accelerate economic growth.

The country's unemployment rate is more than 9 percent.

The president travels on to the state of Iowa, where he is to hold a second town hall on Monday. The White House says participants at the two meetings will include small business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials. Mr. Obama visits Illinois later this week.

The president's approval rating fell after the recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and the debt ceiling battle with Congress.

A recent Gallup poll indicated only 39 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's job performance, an all-time low for the president.

Iowa is where where Republicans held a poll Saturday to make known their top presidential candidates for 2012. U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota won the non-binding vote, known as a “straw poll.”

The straw poll comes months before the Iowa caucuses in February, the first serious vote in the long presidential campaign season. It is seen as just one indication of which candidate is likely to do well in next year's presidential primary elections.

Bachmann is a favorite of conservative Tea Party activists. She advocates lower taxes and smaller government and says her goal is to make Mr. Obama a one-term president.

Texas Representative Ron Paul came in second in the poll. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty finished a distant third and announced he is quitting the presidential race, while Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he is entering the race.

Perry was not on the ballot in Iowa. But he won more write-in votes than former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who was on the ballot and had been considered the front-runner.