America

Obama Kicks Off 'Recovery Summer' With Ohio Pitstop

Barack Obama, Ray LaHood

hide captionPresident Barack Obama, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and construction workers, touts stimulus spending in Columbus, Ohio. 

Amy Sancetta/AP

This summer, President Barack Obama and other administration officials may pop up at a road project near you.

With mid-term elections bearing down on a Democratic Party that appears likely to lose a number of seats in Congress, and with economic anxiety still running high in the land, the White House is determined to remind people of how much worse things would have been if it hadn't been for last year's economic stimulus.

So Obama Administration officials will be appearing around the nation at road projects and other construction sites to tout the job creation and local spending connected to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The White House is calling it "Recovery Summer" which is sort of reminiscent of the Civil Rights movement's "Freedom Summer."

On Friday, the president kicked off the summer of events meant to capture local media attention in cities around the country with a brief visit to Columbus, Ohio.

And I do mean brief. One reporter clocked the president's speech at 12-1/2 minutes. All told, Obama was on the ground for less than an hour.

The Columbus event was meant to mark the 10,000th Recovery Act project, in this case a road near Nationwide Children's Hospital that has created 300 construction jobs, according to the White House.

The president said what you'd expect, that the recovery act is making a real difference.

An excerpt of his remarks, including his allusion to Vice President Joe Biden's famously foul-mouthed appreciation of the passage of the healthcare-overhaul legislation:

Now, these projects haven't just improved communities; they've put thousands of construction crews, just like this one, to work.

They've spurred countless small businesses to hire because, you know, these are some big guys here, so they've got to eat, which means that you've got to get some — some food brought in, or the local restaurants here benefit from the crews being here at work.

It means that instead of worrying about where their next paycheck is going to come from, Americans across the country are helping to build our future and their own futures.

Now, as my friend Joe Biden, who has done a great job overseeing the recovery act, would say, this is big — (pause) — deal. (Laughter.)  (Laughs.)  And I think it's fitting that we've reached this milestone here in this community, because what you're doing here is a perfect example of the kind of innovation and coordination and renewal that the recovery act is driving all across the country.

Obama likes visiting Ohio because paying attention to the critical swing state paid off for him in 2008. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio and in 2008, Obama kept it out of Republican hands, winning 52 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain's 48 percent.

This year, there's another reason for Obama to visit Ohio and talk up the jobs being created there through stimulus spending: Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, is in what currently appears to be a tight race with former Republican Congressman John Kasich.

It just so happens that Kasich's old congressional district is exactly where Obama appeared on Friday, Columbus. Obama carried the district by nine percentage points in 2008.

So the visit was no doubt partly intended to boost Strickland who became a strong supporter of Obama's after his initially preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, conceded to Obama to end the drawn-out primary process.

While it's understandable why the Obama Administration wants credit for the jobs they say were created or saved by stimulus dollars, there could be a downside.

Like when travelers sitting in traffic slowed by construction of a stimulus-funded project notice the sign that cheerfully says their present misery was brought to them by the Recovery Act.

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