Aug. 15 - U.S. President Barack Obama touts a job growth strategy on his bus tour through the American Midwest as campaigning Republicans slam his handling of the economy. Katharine Jackson reports.
President Barack Obama's bus tour of the American midwest....First stop: Minnesota. Obama criticizes Republicans in Congress for walking away from a deal to combine spending cuts with tax increases. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "If folks who could best afford it -- millionaires and billionaires -- were willing to eliminate some of the loop-holes that they take advantage of in the tax code and do a little bit more. And if we were willing to take on some of the long term costs that we have in health care. If we do those things, we could solve this problem tomorrow." The White House says Obama is on a three-day tour to hear Americans' concerns over the economy and tout his job growth strategy. With U.S. unemployment just above 9 percent, jobs are expected to be the central issue for voters in the 2012 presidential election. A front-runner for Republicans, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire...saying Obama should skip his upcoming Martha's Vineyard vacation and work on Washington's woes. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR REPUBLICAN MITT ROMNEY SAYING: "I wish the President were in Washington calling back Congress and dealing with the challenges we have. I don't know that he has a strategy now or whether he basically thrown up his hands and is just hoping things will get better." Jobs were also the focus for Texas governor Rick Perry - who stood atop bales of hay in Iowa just two days after entering the race for the Republican nomination. Along with a surging Michele Bachmann, Perry is seen as a top contender in the fight to face Obama. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY SAYING: "I know what this country needs and we need to get Americans back working. We need to be able to create an environment in this country where anybody that wants to work can find a job." Republican hopefuls are also looking to the president's sliding approval rating for signs the top job could become available...For the first time, Obama's job approval rating fell below 40 percent in Gallup's daily tracking poll. Katharine Jackson, Reuters.