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Despite his roots, Obama struggles to show he's connected to middle class

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President Obama said those who opposed last year's massive stimulus package, and have argued since that it isn't helping to save or create jobs, have also claimed credit in their districts for projects from the bill.

On life in Washington: "It can drive you crazy."

On one of the good things about the White House: "You live above the store."

On his relationship with the mayor of Elyria, Ohio: "He and I shared a burger at Smitty's."

On the media: "People with the pens and pencils."

On his reason for visiting a machine company in Baltimore: "I just like gettin' out of the White House, and then I like tooling around companies that are actually making stuff."

Meetin' with folks

So it was little surprise in New Hampshire that, after Obama visited one manufacturing business, he was introduced at his town hall by the owner of another manufacturing business. Obama answered six questions from the crowd at a packed high school gym, referring to "folks" 13 times before aides indicated he had run out of time.

He lingered afterward for five minutes, shaking hands, slapping backs and exchanging hugs while his assistant, Reggie Love, followed to collect business cards and phone numbers. At 3:30 p.m., less than three hours after he landed in New Hampshire, Obama peeled away from the crowd, pointing apologetically at a cadre of aides and Secret Service agents who were suggesting it was time to go. The moment for direct connection had passed. Now it was back to the motorcade, onto his 166th flight aboard Air Force One and off to the White House -- back to a life apart.


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