President Obama launched a three-day bus tour through two states critical to his 2012 reelection campaign by kicking Senate Republicans for blocking his jobs bill, saying he is breaking up his plan because "maybe they just couldn't understand the whole thing at once."
Speaking in Asheville, N.C., Obama challenged Congress to pass his $447 billion jobs bill in "bite-sized pieces," stating with legislation to provide funding to cash-starved states to pay for teachers, police officers and firefighters.
The president said that in blocking his bill, Senate Republicans — he did not mention the two Democratic 'no' votes — "said 'no' to you."
"Sixty-three percent support the jobs bill I put forward," Obama said. "One hundred percent of Republican senators voted against it. That doesn't make any sense, does it?"
Obama, minus a tie and jacket, appeared in full campaign mode as he railed against Republicans. The crowd got into the spirit, chanting "four more years."
Hearing that, Obama said that while he's grateful for the sentiment, he wants the jobs bill to pass now.
"I appreciate the four more years, but right now I'm thinking about the next 13 months," Obama said.
The president's trip, ostensibly focused on building support for his jobs act, is taking Obama to two states — North Carolina and Virginia — that he won in 2008 but are expected to be difficult for the president to carry in four years. Obama was the first Democrat in a generation to win in both places.
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A year after Obama's historic victory, Virginia elected a Republican governor. And last year, the two states shifted back to the Republican party as a slew of incumbent Democrats in the House went down to defeat.
Obama told the crowd that the first piece he wants the Senate to pass is $35 billion for states to put teachers, police officers and fire fighters back to work.
If the separate jobs proposal is blocked, Obama told the crowd, "then they're not going to have to answer to me — they're going to have to answer to you."
"I need you to give Congress a piece of your mind," Obama said. "These members of Congress work for you. If they're not delivering, it's time to let them know."
Obama also discussed the Republican jobs plan, called the "Real American Jobs Act," saying it "boils down to a few basic ideas: they want to gut regulations, they want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants, they want to drill more and they want to repeal healthcare reform."
The president said that the Republican plan means "dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance."
"So far, at least, I feel better about my plan," Obama said.