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Stimulus project focus of Obama visit

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* I’ve been wondering why President Obama was traveling to the tiny town of Atkinson today. I assumed it was about iowa politics, since Atkinson is near that state. But, it’s also about a little back-patting

In this small Illinois farming community not far from the Iowa border, a shiny new fire station being built is testament to the stimulus plan that the Obama administration hoped would rescue the nation’s economy.

The construction job, which won a $1.3 million grant, was the kind of project the White House thought would create jobs in small towns across the nation, all the better if the locals gave Obama a little of the credit.

In the midst of a political storm over the state of the economy on his watch, Obama will find out if that’s the case when he holds one of two Illinois town halls in the community Wednesday as he wraps up a three-day, campaign-style bus tour in the Midwest. The town of 1,000 is rolling out the red carpet for him by lining parts of its main thoroughfares with more than 900 donated American flags.

Even before Obama sets foot in town, he has earned the praise of fire chief Bob Floming. Floming looks forward to the day this fall when the station is scheduled to open and he can fit all of their equipment inside instead of having to use a pole barn to hold the volunteer department’s three big rigs.

“I credit him for it, I really do,” Floming said of Obama.

* Axe’s explanation

After a series of stops in Minnesota and Iowa, Obama wraps up a three-day bus trip with a pair of town hall meetings in two small Henry County towns in western Illinois: Atkinson, population 1,100 (143 miles west of Chicago) and Alpha, population 671. At Alpha, Obama will appear at Country Corner Farm, an “agri-tourism” business.

While Obama needs to work to keep Minnesota and Iowa in his 2012 win column, the former Illinois senator is not seen as having any re-election problem in his adopted homestate.

I asked Obama strategist David Axelrod why Obama was swinging through Illinois and it was not, he told me, a matter of looking at electoral maps or polling. “Illinois is very much in the heartland and these small towns he is going to are very representative of communities all over the country,” Axelrod said.

The bus trip is official government business — White House advance staffers were at Wyffels on Monday. But the Republican National Committee has been sniping that it is a thinly disguised campaign run.

* Gov. Pat Quinn moved up the Governor’s Day events so he could participate in the festivities. As a result, he could miss his own fundraiser

The Taxpayers for Quinn barbecue, minimum ticket price of $20, is scheduled to take place at a home in the 4400 block of Old Chatham Road immediately following the annual Governor’s Day rally at the Illinois State Fair, according to an invitation.

The rally will be at noon on the Director’s Lawn at the fair. Quinn probably will make that, but “I think he’s going to have to cut out early” to rendezvous with Obama, said David Rosen, the Quinn campaign’s finance director.

“He’s going to try and make the reception,” Rosen said of the fundraiser. “It’s not that far.”

But because of security surrounding the president, Rosen added, “his movements may be restricted so he can’t make it.”

As always, do your very best to keep those goofy DC talking points out of the comment section. I won’t have much time today to police y’all, and national politics tends to bring out the worst in people, so, please, take a breath. Thanks.

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 10:50 am


  1. Obama came to the mid-west for oxygen,plus he’s away from Washington and talking to real people.
    Towns like Atkinson are just what he needs to get
    energized. Most President’s get caught up in belt-way double speak. Now is as good a time to listen to real people.

    Comment by mokenavince Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 11:16 am

  2. A lot of Republicans in small towns and rural areas. Never a bad idea for a Democrat to make the small towns feel recognized for their issues.

    Comment by Aldyth Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 11:21 am

  3. This is a campaign swing paid for by taxpayers. Both sides have done it. So nothing has CHANGEd.

    Comment by Fed up Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 11:39 am

  4. Ok I remember the connection with Atkinson - it is home to the “Lion’s Den” a XXX shop in an old Stuckey’s building.

    Comment by Anonymous Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 11:47 am

  5. I’m not so sure that “the former Illinois senator is not seen as having any re-election problem in his adopted homestate.” We elected a Republican to fill his vacant seat, we were almost 32,000 votes away from electing a Republican governor, and we gained 5 Republican House seats. Outside of Cook County, Illinois is growing increasingly red. Even the Democratic margins in St. Clair county have gone down. Both Quinn and Giannoulias only won 3 counties. I wish DC reporters realized this. Really, Google’s not that hard to use.

    Comment by LN Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 11:57 am

  6. Illinois is right on the way to Martha’s Vineyard where Obama will put the fine point on the details of his September, 2011 (?) jobs plan which will undoubtedly contain a proposals for windmill powered bullet trains.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 12:09 pm

  7. When you think about it, today is Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, the current IL Governor is a Democrat, and POTUS is a Democrat from Illinois — so it’s really disappointing that POTUS is not in Springfield, IL at the State Fair on Governor’s Day to tout his renewed vision.

    IMO, a HUGE missed opportunity for POTUS.

    Comment by unclesam Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 12:57 pm

  8. “I credit him for it, I really do,” Floming said of Obama.

    Fleming is an idiot. He should be thanking all of the taxpayers who provided the firehouse not Obama. We provide the money that Obama happily doles out at a rate 40% above what is taken in.

    Comment by BIG R. Ph Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 1:09 pm

  9. I agree with UncleSam. This would have been a perfect time for Obama to make an unannounced appearance at the Fair. He has the helicopter close by somewhere. Buzz over, do a quick team speech, some handshakes, pics, pick up Quinn and get both of them back back for the evening show at Atkinson.

    Comment by zatoichi Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 2:40 pm

  10. Maybe the president wanted to steer clear of union picketers protesting Quinn’s anti-labor policies.
    Besides, Michelle won’t let him eat deep fried dill pickles on a stick anymore any more.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 3:27 pm

  11. Geez, Cincy you never miss an opportunity to regurgitate the daily Fox snark. Do you get a t-shirt or something for that? Signed XXX Sean Hannity glossies?

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Aug 17, 11 @ 10:16 pm

  12. I realize this is pointless. But I am very tired of the “only won three counties” line. Please show me where in the Constitution that is mentions “one county, one vote.” Illinois does not have a county-based Electoral College. You need a majority of the voters, not the counties. And if you win the three counties with the most voters, you win.

    Comment by soccermom Thursday, Aug 18, 11 @ 7:48 am

  13. Obama had his PR people search for months to try to find a spot in the nation where the unemployment rate was now less then when he became president. It came down to only three tiny villages. Petticoat Junction, Reddick, and Atkinson, Illinois. Atkinson is a tiny farming town. Blink as you drive through the town and you will miss it. Farming is the one economic sector in the country that has thrived despite the recession and a lack of sound economic policies and leadership from Obama. Rumor has it Obama’s PR people sought to approach a little kid with a lemonade stand in Atkinson. They allegedly tried to get this new business owner to publicly endorse Obama for November 2012 and for her to say that Obama’s strong economic and business leadership was critical to her business success.

    Comment by Wilson Pickett Thursday, Aug 18, 11 @ 8:06 am

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