For the first time since he took office, President Obama’s approval rating dropped below 40 percent
, according to Gallup’s Daily Tracking Poll on Sunday.
Perhaps it’s in response to the dreary economic indicators, or to the GOP presidential candidates’ savaging the president at every turn. Either way, Obama starts a bus tour on Monday to Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa, ostensibly to hear from Americans.
According to the president and his aides, the bus tour is “a chance for him to hear real stories from real Americans about the impact of a struggling economy,” reports USA Today. With Republican candidates firing salvos from the Midwest, the bus tour also carries heavy political overtones, as some say
it’s a way for Obama to blunt GOP attacks.
On the ground, Obama expects a bruising from some frustrated voters.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest (how’s that for a name of a spokesman?) said
, “The president does anticipate that he'll detect a little frustration about the dysfunction in Congress and the strident position of some in Congress to put their parties and affiliation ahead of the country.”
Meanwhile, attack ads from the Republican National Committee (RNC) are calling the bus tour “a tax-payer-funded PR junket.”
“This latest White House PR stunt shows why elections matter, and why we must defeat Barack Obama in 2012 so that his Debt-End Bus-Tour presidency doesn’t steer the country further off course,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement
For Republican presidential hopefuls, this weekend was a busy one. As several established candidates duked it out in Iowa at the Ames straw poll—a fundraising tactic
for the Iowa Republican party won this year by Michele Bachmann
—the race was shaken up by the departure of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
and by the announcement by Texas Gov. Rick Perry that he’s joining the race
Seems the only Republican RSVP we’re still waiting on is that of Sarah Palin, whose own bus tour is rolling through the Midwest. On Saturday, she paid a surprise visit
to the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan in Dixon, Ill.