Mixed Feelings Abound As Obama Visits Iowa
As President Obama travels on a three-day, three-state Midwestern bus tour to talk about the economy and jobs, one of the places he has visited is the city of Decorah in northeast Iowa.
The tiny college town — whose economy is doing considerably better than the nation as a whole — is friendly territory for the president. Obama carried the county by a wide margin in 2008.
Among voters now, you'll find plenty of loyalists but also plenty of frustration.
Dave Donaldson, 45, who works at the local video store, is an independent who's voted for both Presidents Bush, as well as for Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Obama.
"From what I've seen, I've seen a lot of talk and not so much action. I did believe in the message of hope and change. I did. In retrospect, not so much," Donaldson says.
Donaldson says he's disappointed that the job picture isn't far better and says this far into his presidency, Obama should stop pointing the finger of blame at his predecessor.
At a sports bar in downtown Decorah on Monday, about a dozen people watch live coverage of the president's town hall meeting happening just miles away. As Obama takes on a tougher tone than usual, some at the bar clap and express support for what he's saying.
Among them is Joanne Jurs, 74, who says her support for Obama is unwavering.
"Not wavering at all," she says. "I'm married to one who's wavering just a little."
Jurs says her husband wants to see more decisiveness from the president and more of a plan for the economy, but she stresses that he is still a supporter.
Tea Party Stakes Out A Spot
As the president's event ends, crowds start lining up along downtown streets on the route the motorcade will take. Many just want a glimpse of the president. And certainly there are a lot of supporters, but the local Tea Party has also staked out a spot.
Thomas Hansen, 49, who raises and sells organic beef, organized the Tea Party gathering. He holds up a sign that reads: "Mr. President, a rural, small American businessman wishes to talk to you."
"And that's me," Hansen says. "That's what he said he was on the tour for."
The president's bus suddenly turns a corner, and rolls past.
Greg Moeller, 48, a Tea Party activist and a computer technician, says it's important that Obama sees not just supporters when he comes to town.
"We're here to endeavor to represent our interests as citizens of the United States to the president," Moeller says.
Meanwhile, another crowd gathered on the street in front of the Winneshiek Hotel, where the president stayed.
Uwe Rudolf, 68, who is retired from Luther College, a major employer here, holds a sign of his own.
"It says, 'Yes, Obama, No Tea Party,'" Rudolf says.
The other side of his sign contains the phrase "take on the naysayers." Rudolf says his only complaint about the president is that he's not aggressive enough with Republicans in Congress. But he likes the idea of this tour.
"I watched him on CNN today. He is coming on a little stronger. Finally," Rudolf says.
And Rudolf predicts that's something that's absolutely critical if the president hopes for a second term.