By Ian Swanson - 08/15/11 04:46 PM EDT
President Obama’s focus during a three-day bus trip in the Midwest will be exclusively on the economy, the White House said Monday.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One that Obama will be repeating much of his anti-Congress message from last week, when he ripped lawmakers over the debt-ceiling talks.
"I mean, this is about a part of the country where we’re able to hit three states with interesting economies and places that we can visit," Carney said in response to a question about Bachmann. "So it’s certainly unrelated to that.
He said it was ridiculous to suggest that “any time the president leaves Washington, it’s campaigning,” according to a White House pool report. He also said the trip has nothing to do with worries that Obama is struggling to maintain support in Iowa, Minnesota or Illinois, all of which the president carried in the 2008 contest.
Obama arrived in St. Paul, Minn. Monday morning and will take part in two town halls, one in Minnesota and the other in Iowa later in the day.
Much of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, including Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, greeted him.
Bachmann, whose strong showing in the Ames poll has solidified her position as a top-tier GOP candidate, was not present.
Obama is traveling in an all-black bus with dark tinted windows, according to the pool report, which said the windows are so dark that it does not appear to have any windows at all.
Carney said traveling by bus allows Obama to visit communities that would otherwise be harder for him to reach. Speaking of Air Force One, he said “a plane this size is hard to get into small communities.”
This story was updated at 1:53 p.m.