President Obama, hopping across America's heartland Wednesday, was asked by a reporter, "Why Iowa Today?"
His simple response is both evasive and revealing: "I love Iowa!" said the President. Indeed he should.
As the President himself later told a group of workers who build wind turbine blades, "(I) wouldn't have been President if it wasn't for Iowa."
This is part three of President Obama's White House to Main Street Tour, which he kicked off back in December in Pennsylvania. He's making six stops in three states over two days.
And while this is not a campaign trip, the profound political significance of Iowa is undeniable. It was candidate Obama's 15 point win in the Iowa caucuses that gave him the momentum that propelled him to the White House. Now, it's a mid-term election year in which the political fortunes of Democrats will rise or fall at least partly on the President's policies. So he's launched a meet-America PR campaign designed to show he's connected to the people and understand their difficulties.
"In too many places, though," the President acknowledged today, " the recovery isn't reaching everybody just yet. Times are still tough in towns like Fort Madison."
Fort Madison lies in a troubled corner of Iowa where the unemployment rate hovers near 11-percent-- higher than the national average of 9.7-percent and much higher than Iowa's average of 6.8%. The President spoke at a Siemens plant that builds wind turbine blades. The White house says this plant created 600 new jobs in the past three years and benefited from 3.5 million dollars in tax credits from the President's economic recovery plan.
Green jobs may be Iowa's pathway to renewed prosperity, according to the President. But, he warned , wind energy alone is not the silver bullet. "This is a key component," he said, "of a comprehensive strategy to move us from an economy that just runs on fossil fuels to one that relies on more homegrown fuels and clean energy."
Also on this trip the President visited an organic produce farm in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. His agenda also includes a town hall meeting in Ottumwa, Iowa and on Wednesday a visit to an ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri.
All the stops are related to the economy and energy. And the President is bringing an upbeat message of progress and change that he hopes will serve Democrats well in the upcoming election
Two competitive Senate battles are being waged in the states President Obama is visiting on this trip. Democrats hope to make inroads in Missouri, where Republican Senator Kit Bond is retiring. And, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is hoping to win Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois. Kirk's Democratic opponent, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, will be there when President Obama makes remarks tomorrow in Quincy, Illinois. His family- owned bank recently failed, and it's still unclear exactly how enthusiastically the President will endorse him.