Obama heads to Minneapolis to spend day with working mom

The final question from President Obama's town hall in Minnesota Thursday came from a federal worker concerned after this year's furloughs. Obama replied by praising the work of federal agencies. (WH.gov)

President Obama, looking for new ways to show he empathizes with ordinary Americans, will leave Washington on Thursday for a two-day trip to Minneapolis where he’ll spend time with a working mother who wrote him a letter last year.

Rebekah Erler, an accountant and mother of two young boys, wrote to Obama last March after she became frustrated that her day-care bills were more than her house mortgage, she told a local CBS affiliate.

“You never really think that anyone’s going to call you back. But they did. My letter made it to his desk,” she said in the interview with WCCO TV.

Obama, who reads 10 letters each night, said in a White House video that “it’s going to be wonderful to let Rebekah know not only am I listening, but she’s not alone.”

The president will appear with Erler at a town hall-style event Thursday at Minnehaha Park, and he’ll also make remarks Friday on the economy at Lake Harriet Band Shell. The trip kicks off what the White House calls a tour of cities in which Obama will spend “a day in the life” with ordinary Americans. The summer tour comes at a time in which Obama’s job approval ratings have dipped to 41 percent in a recent Gallup poll, among the lowest of his tenure.

“He'll be hitting the road and traveling to communities across the country -- sitting around diner booths and kitchen tables to talk about the issues that matter to them,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

“Rebekah's story is representative of the experiences of millions of Americans: Even though our economy's made a historic comeback, too many middle-class Americans are still stretched too thin, and there's more work to do.”

The president also will participate in a fundraiser Thursday evening for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

During a town hall event in Minneapolis, a college student asked President Obama how it was possible to book him as a commencement speaker. (WhiteHouse.gov)


David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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