U.S. President Barack Obama launches a three-state midwestern tour Monday aimed at answering opposition Republicans who accuse him of doing little to pump life into the ailing economy.
The president’s poll numbers have fallen after the recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, the debt ceiling battle with Congress, and a persistent nationwide unemployment rate of more than 9 percent.
Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio address on Saturday that the country did not get into this mess overnight and that it will take time to get out of it. He said all Americans have the right to be frustrated.
He will spend the next three days talking about the economy and jobs in Minnesota, Illinois and in Iowa, where Republicans just held a non-binding poll to make known their top presidential candidates for 2012.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota won the non-binding Iowa vote called a “straw poll.” Texas Congressman Ron Paul came in second. Bachmann is a favorite of conservative Tea Party activists. She advocates lower taxes and smaller government and says her goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty finished a distant third and announced he is quitting the presidential race, while Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he is entering the race.
Perry was not on the ballot in Iowa. But he won more write-in votes than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who was on the ballot and had been considered the front-runner.
Iowa’s straw poll was held five months before the Iowa caucuses, the first serious vote in the long presidential campaign season. The straw poll is seen as just one indication of which candidate is likely to do well in next year’s presidential primary elections.