President Obama travels to the Cleveland suburb of Elyria, Ohio, Friday – the second leg of his “White House to Main Street” jobs tour – where he will meet and talk with local employees and visit a sporting goods factory to see the production of baseball and football helmets. Considering the mood in the country, his aides might recommend that Mr. Obama wear one of those helmets.
The town’s local paper, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, asked Elyria residents what they wanted to say to the President when he visits and the many letters received ranged from the desperate: “Mr. President, what are you gonna do to help us people that are hard-working, middle-class people when these banks are telling us to file for bankruptcy or foreclose on our homes?,” asks Jared Conchour; to the frustrated: “Please stay out of Medicare funding and my pocketbook. Quit trying to buy votes for your disastrous health care plan. Concentrate instead on the economy/jobs,” writes resident Ted Bansek.
“The anger and frustration in this country about where we are economically is something that we heard… in Massachusetts (during the Senate race),” explains the President’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs. “The President heard and saw it last month when he traveled to Pennsylvania. He’ll hear it in Ohio.”
Lorain County, home of Elyria, has an unemployment rate of 9.5% -- up 2 and half percent from 2008. Local residents are concerned that more job cuts are on their way if health care reform legislation passes. Local company Invacare, the world’s largest manufacturer of home medical products, says a tax on medical devices in the legislation could result in up to 1,300 jobs lost in the area.
White House officials say the President will speak to the citizens of Elyria directly about their anxieties and concerns.
A year into office, Mr. Obama has his policy plate full, but the White House is touting job creation as a major agenda item for 2010. Even the First Lady is part of the dialogue. Thursday she told employees at the Department of Commerce in Washington that their work in supporting businesses is essential to increasing nation’s employment numbers. “Every innovation you spur here, every business you help, and dream you nurture means a livelihood for some family out there. A source of income for a community, another building block for our economy,” she said. “This isn't just about right now - your work doesn't just strengthen economy this year or this decade but laying foundation for economic prosperity for generations to come.”
The President traveled to the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania on December 4th to hear from residents there and concerns they had about the economy and to address his ideas about jumpstarting private sector hiring and getting Americans back to work.
“We have to continue to create an atmosphere, through different proposals that the President has laid out to create that environment for private sector hiring,” Gibbs said.
This will be the President's second visit to Lorain County. He made a campaign stop there in 2008.
Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.