Obama Attacks GOP Candidates--On Tax-Funded Bus Trip Through Battleground States

August 16, 2011 - 5:44 AM
Obama Midwest trip

President Barack Obama poses for a photo with summer school kids, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, in Chatfield, Minn., during his three-day economic bus tour. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama attacked the Republican presidential candidates Monday as part of a taxpayer-funded bus tour that the White House insists is not campaign-related.

The president’s three-day bus tour through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois is supposed to focus on jobs. But during a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn., Obama mentioned last Thursday’s Republican debate in Ames, Iowa, and he criticized the candidates for saying they would not accept any deficit-reduction deal that includes tax increases.

“I know it’s not election season yet,” Obama said two days after the GOP’s Ames straw poll, “but I just have to mention, the debate the other party candidates were having the other day -- when they were asked to reduce our deficit, reduce our debt, would you be willing to take a deal where it was $5 of spending cuts for every $1 of increased revenues, who would take it? Everybody said no.

“They said, how about 10 to 1? Ten dollars of cuts for every dollar increase in revenue?” Obama continued. “Are you saying that none of you would take it -- and everybody raised their hand. None of them would take it. Think about that. I mean, that’s just not common sense.”

During last Thursday’s Republican debate, a panelist asked candidates if they would accept a deficit and debt reduction deal that included tax hikes even if it was $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts. All eight GOP candidates on the stage raised their hands saying they would oppose a 10-1 deal. (See earlier story)

On the (non)campaign-trail in Minnesota Monday, Obama defended his health care plan by taking a swipe at Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who advocated and signed into law a health care plan that included an individual mandate.

“This should not be controversial, but it has become controversial partly because of people’s view that -- well, let me just say this,” Obama said. “You’ve got a governor who’s running for president right now who instituted the exact same thing in Massachusetts -- this used to be a Republican idea, by the way, this whole idea of the individual mandate, and suddenly some -- it’s like they got amnesia.”

After the town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn., Obama headed to the battleground state of Iowa where Republican candidates such as Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are campaigning in the lead-up to January’s Iowa Caucuses.

At another town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa, Obama again went after Romney on the health care issue. Romney has said that he does not regret his decision on bringing state-mandated health care to Massachusetts, but insisted that as president he would work to repeal Obamacare.

“It’s amusing to watch one of the major Republican candidates now trying to wiggle out of the fact that my health care bill is very similar to the health care bill he passed at a time when he needed to compromise because he was living in a Democratic-majority state,” Obama said.

Obama, blasted by Republican leaders for advancing no plan to rescue the economy and get people back to work, told the crowd in Decorah he’s working on it:

"I'll be putting forward when they (Congress) come back in September a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control our deficit. And my attitude is -- get it done," he said.

Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama’s three-day Midwestern trip was official presidential business. He was indignant when reporters suggested that the bus tour might be political.

On Aug. 2, CNSNews.com asked Carney, “Is that a campaign event or a presidential event?

Carney answered, “Negative. That is an official event.”

CNSNews.com followed, “So it is being funded by taxpayers in battleground states?”

Carney responded, “He’s the president of the United States.”

Another reporter followed up about whether there was a political nature to the trip.

“The air of cynicism is quite thick,” Carney shot back. “The idea that the president of the United States should not venture forth into the country is ridiculous.”

The reporter said, “I didn’t say that.”

Carney said, “No, but you implied it in your question. It is absolutely important for the president – whoever that person is, in the past or in the future – to get out and hear from people in different communities.”

As Obama began his “official,” taxpayer-funded trip to the Midwest, riding on a new $1.1-million bus purchased by the Secret Service, a Gallup poll gave him the lowest approval rating of his presidency.

In the poll released Sunday, only 39 percent of Americans said they approve of the way Obama is doing his job.