OSAWATOMIE, Kansas – President Barack Obama plans to head to the Republican stronghold of Kansas next week to deliver an economic speech about how he considers this a "make-or-break moment" for the American middle class, the White House announced Saturday.
Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday at the high school in Osawatomie, the town where a century ago, former President Teddy Roosevelt delivered a speech calling for a "New Nationalism." Roosevelt's speech, given after he left the White House, extolled the government's role in promoting social justice and regulating the economy to help the underprivileged. He criticized some fellow Republicans for refusing to tackle the economic power of the wealthy.
Obama will "lay out the choice we face between a country in which too few do well while too many struggle to get by, and one where we're all in it together -- where everyone engages in fair play, everyone does their fair share, and everyone gets a fair shot," the White House said.
In 2010, Republicans won every statewide and congressional office on the ballot in Kansas. Gov. Sam Brownback, who took office in January, is a conservative Republican. Kansas also has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since 1964, including Obama's 2008 opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain. Obama's 42 percent of the vote, however, was the best showing by any Democratic nominee in 20 years in the Midwestern state.
Amanda Adkins, chair of the Kansas Republican Party, said in an email that Kansas residents "expect clarity on a path to job creation, competitiveness and effectiveness," and that it's being delivered by Brownback.
Joan Wagnon, chairwoman of the Kansas Democratic Party, said Obama's message would likely resonate in the state and she planned to attend the speech in Osawatomie, a town of about 4,400 residents some 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City.
"I think Kansans are very concerned about the deepening divide between the wealthy and those that are not," Wagnon said.