ANALYSIS: Obama Rolls Through the Heartland

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  • President Barack Obama is quite comfortable campaigning in the heartland of rural America.

    Obama rolled through Iowa Tuesday on a three-day bus tour where he plans to ask voters to support his vision for the country and reject Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan’s Republican scheme to offer tax breaks to millionaires and dismantle Medicare.

    The president is scheduled to visit Oskaloosa, Marshalltown, Waterloo, and Council Bluffs, Iowa and will tell voters that Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential running mate, is blocking a critical farm bill that Congress should pass to provide financial relief to U.S. farmers and ranchers.

    “Right now folks here in Iowa and across the heartland are suffering from one of the worst droughts in 50 years,” Obama told a crowd in Council Bluffs Monday. “Farmers and ranchers depend on a good crop season to pay the bills and put a roof over their heads, and I know that things are tough right now.”

    “The best way to help these states is for leaders in Congress to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty.  But right now, too many members of Congress are blocking that bill from becoming law.”

    “Now, I’m told Governor Romney’s new running mate might be around Iowa these next few days,” Obama added. “And he’s one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities. It’s time to put politics aside and pass it right away.”

    Obama’s campaign swing through Iowa comes as a new poll shows Obama leading Romney by 7 points among registered voters — 52 percent to 45 percent – according to a CNN/ORC International poll. The president, who wants to capitalize on his advantage, is no stranger to Iowa: It is Obama’s fifth trip this year to Iowa and his 11th as president. Folks in Iowa like Obama.  In 2008, the president won Iowa –an overwhelmingly white state that helped elect Obama as America’s first black president.

    Campaign aides said the president has already cut taxes for a typical Iowa family by about $3,600, which has helped Iowa families afford to send their children to college, buy their first home, pay for health care and child care.

    On Monday, Obama told Iowa voters that the lynchpin of the Romney-Ryan economic plan is a $5 trillion tax plan that some independent economists say would raise taxes on middle class families to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

    “I think this is the right kind of trip at the right time,” Democratic strategist Jerry Crawford of Des Moines told Iowa reporters. “This is a meaningful investment of time and will pay dividends because of how many folks he will touch.”

    Obama's bus tour through Iowa coincides with Romney’s pick of Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Born and raised in the community of Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan is a fifth-generation Wisconsin native. Currently serving his 7th term as a Member of Congress, Ryan is considered a rising star in the Republican Party.

    But Donna Brazile, a Democratic Party consultant and a political analyst for CNN, said Ryan’s proposed policies are dangerous.

    “If there ever was a question about what this election is about, today's announcement answers it,” Brazile wrote on CNN.com. “Throughout this campaign, Mitt Romney has lacked a clear vision. Now he's embraced a radical ideologue with a dangerous one. This election is absolutely a choice between two visions for our country's future. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have solidified their roles as rubber stamps for the reckless and failed economic theories of the past.”

    And Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said Romney and Ryan would lead his swing state of Pennsylvania in the wrong direction.

    “The Romney-Ryan budget is an attack on our most precious resource, the very people who make up the fabric of this country: our parents, our children, our soldiers and our seniors,” Nutter said in a statement.  “By choosing Ryan as his running mate, Romney has made it abundantly clear that he will rubber stamp this extreme Republican plan that brings us back to the same failed economic policies of the Bush Administration and leaves the most vulnerable of our citizens  to fend for themselves.”

    Meanwhile, as Obama travels through Iowa, he reminds voters that he’s taking action even when Congress is gridlocked. Last week, Obama said, the administration allocated $30 million to help farmers and ranchers get more water to livestock and rehabilitate land affected by the drought. And Monday, Obama said the federal government will help livestock producers by purchasing over $150 million worth of meat and fish while prices are low.

    “The folks suffering from this drought can’t wait for Congress to do its job,” Obama told supporters in Iowa. “So in the meantime, I’ve made sure my administration is doing everything we can to provide relief to those who need it.”
     

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