Authors: Joshua Cohan
(CANNON FALLS, Minn.) -- President Obama embarked on his three-day, three-state "rural economic bus tour" in Minnesota on Monday, while Republicans unleashed a flurry of attacks on the trip as blatant campaigning at taxpayer expense.
"I am very pleased to be out of Washington," Obama said as he took the stage at a town hall event in Cannon Falls, Minn., about 45 miles southeast of Minneapolis.
Obama, tie-less with shirt sleeves rolled up, roamed microphone in hand as he reprised his economic stump speech of recent weeks. He heaped pressure on Congress to pass measures he says would spur job growth, such as a payroll tax cut extension and new infrastructure projects, and rallied supporters to join him in the cause.
"I'm here to enlist you in a fight," Obama said, striking tones reminiscent of his election campaign, "we are here to fight for the future of our country."
The Republican National Committee, which dubs the excursion Obama's "debt end tour" (the tubthumping trip earned the equally stinging "Magical Misery Tour" from the Romney camp) released a series of scathing Web videos and radio ads in three Midwest states, blasting the president for his handling of the economy.
"We're not going to stand idly by while this president perpetrates this fraud of a bus tour while using taxpayer dollars to spin his failure to put America back to work," RNC chairman Reince Priebus told reporters on a conference call from Cannon Falls.
Obama will hold similar events in Decorah, Peosta, and Atkinson, Iowa, and Alpha, Ill., all billed by the administration as opportunities for the president to engage with average citizens in middle America and hear their ideas for spurring job growth.
While Republicans cast the president's trip -- coming on the heels of the Ames Straw poll -- as political, the White House has defended it as an opportunity for Obama to meet with "real folks in real places" off the beaten path.
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