Without admitting that they are in full-out campaign mode to pass the stimulus, the Obama White House has begun what feels very much like an election year push to drum up support for the beleaguered recovery package.
Coming off a sharp, occasionally searing speech by the president at the House Democratic Caucus retreat Thursday night, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced a series of town hall meetings Obama will hold next week to get Congress to move swiftly on the package.
The stops -- one in Elkhart, Indiana, the other in Fort Myers, Florida -- will bring Obama "directly to where the problems seem most acute," according to Gibbs. The two cities have seen unemployment levels rise 10.6 percent and 4 percent respectively. When it was noted that this seemed like a campaign tour, Gibbs replied: "[it's] like the good old days."
He later let it be known that any lawmakers from those two regions were welcome to hop on board Air Force One to travel with the president.
Going to specific districts and regions is a time-honored way for presidents to send a message to members of Congress. And certainly, the White House is deeply invested in rallying popular support to the stimulus. Earlier in the briefing, state-specific analogies were wielded as political tools.
After making the formal defense of the recovery package, Gibbs noted that in the last month alone the economy had lost 598,000 jobs -- "the equivalent of losing every job in the state of Maine." You got that Sens. Collins and Snowe?
In the past two months, the economy had shed 1.2 million jobs -- "that is basically losing every job in Pittsburgh or Cleveland." Sens. Specter and Voinovich?
In the past three months, roughly 1.8 million jobs had been lost -- in other words, "every job in Connecticut or South Carolina" Sen. Graham and Lieberman, that's for you, oh and get your buddy McCain on board.
And in the past four months 2.2 million jobs were lost, which is "basically losing every job in the state of Louisiana." Not quite sure who the target is there, but Sen. Mary Landrieu is now on notice --no crossing party lines.