Not willing to let his Republican presidential rivals have all the fun in Iowa, President Obama is planning his own visits to a pair of towns there next week.
The stops are part of Obama’s three-day Midwest bus trip to talk with the public about the struggling economy, according to the White House, which released new details of the trip Friday.
On Monday, Obama will answer questions at town hall-style events at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park in Cannon Falls, Minn., and in Decorah, Iowa.
On Tuesday, he will play host to a rural economic forum at the Northeastern Iowa Area Community College in Peosta, Iowa.
And on Wednesday, the president will hold two more town hall events in the western Illinois towns of Atkinson and Alpha.
Following so closely on the heels of the Republicans’ debate in Ames on Thursday, Obama’s bus tour has campaign undertones. But he arranged the trip through the White House, not his 2012 campaign operations. Deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday that the president sees such road trips as part of his official duties.
“It is something the president views as one of the chief responsibilities in office, spending time outside D.C., talking to people about the economy and policy decisions he’s making here,” Earnest said. “There’s a very robust debate about economic policies in Iowa. And it’s also happening in Minnesota and happening in Illinois.”
Earnest said Obama had not watched the Republican debate Thursday. The president had been busy giving a speech in Holland, Mich., and then raising money for his campaign in New York City.
Picking up on the president’s pointed criticism of Congress during the speech at the automobile battery factory Thursday, Earnest said that Obama expects on his bus tour to hear frustration from the public about “this political dysfunction. ... It’s clear from the rhetoric that the Republicans are the source of the intransigence.”
Earnest added that Obama also knows he might hear from some Democratic supporters frustrated by his willingness to sign a debt deal that included steep spending cuts.
“That’s something the president believes is an important part of leadership and an important part of resolving, moving off our maximist positions and demonstrating a willingness to compromise,” he said.
After his bus tour, Obama is scheduled to head to Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters to begin a scheduled 10-day vacation.