President Barack Obama faces a barrage of questions on his plans to reinvigorate the economy with a massive stimulus bill and additional billions in bailout money for the financial markets.
By MARK S. SMITH, Associated Press Writer
The president traveled here on Monday and is going to Florida on Tuesday, to cities hurting badly from the economic meltdown, and is holding a prime-time news conference at the White House on Monday night. The blitz shows that Obama and his advisers are worried about a looming Senate vote on the stimulus bill, which failed to gather meaningful Republican support during rare weekend debate. A key vote on the legislation was set in the Senate for Monday afternoon.
The sessions allow Obama to appeal directly to Americans for grass-roots backing of his plans. He planned about an eight-minute opening to his news conference aimed at arguing on behalf of quick passage of the stimulus, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
For his first direct pitch to citizens, Obama scheduled a town hall meeting here in northern Indiana, where the unemployment rate soared to 15.3 percent in December, up a whopping 10.6 percentage points from December 2007. The region has been hammered by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry. On Tuesday, he plans to visit Fort Myers, Fla., an area hit hard by home foreclosures.
“The American people are desperate for us to act,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod told reporters traveling with Obama on Air Force One en route to Indiana. “They understand that we’re in crisis. They’re living it every single day. Obviously the place we are going to today is one of the more severely hit communities. But all communities are.”