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President Barack Obama launched a three-day bus tour, speaking in town hall meetings through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, but he emphasized that he is not campaigning yet. Obama, however, spent his speeches focusing on jobs and the economy while criticizing the GOP field of potential nominees.
The President criticized the Republicans for their uniform opposition to any deficit-cutting compromise involving new taxes. “That’s just not common sense,” Obama told the crowd at a town hall-style meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn. “You need to take a balanced approach,” he insisted.
Obama spoke about last week’s GOP presidential debate where all eight of the candidates said they would refuse to support a deal with tax increases, even if tax revenues were outweighed 10-to-1 by spending cuts. Obama didn’t mention any of the candidates by name, and prefaced the remark by saying, “I know it’s not election season yet.”
At another town hall meeting, Obama was questioned about his health care reform and used the opportunity to take a shot at Mitt Romney.”You’ve got a governor who’s running for president right now who instituted the exact same thing in Massachusetts,” Obama said, referring the requirement for nearly everyone to carry health insurance. “This used to be a Republican idea,” Obama said. “It’s like suddenly they got amnesia.”
Obama also criticized the anti-government message that the Republican Party embraces. “When you go to the National Parks and those folks in the hats, that’s government,” Obama said. “As frustrated as you are about politics don’t buy into this notion that somehow government is what’s holding us back,” he said.
Obama began his speech at the town hall meetings by criticizing Congress, accusing lawmakers of putting politics ahead of the country and calling on voters to tell them to cut it out. “You’ve got to send a message to Washington that it’s time for the games to stop, it’s time to put country first,” Obama said.
“I want everyone to understand here, I’m not here just to enjoy the nice weather; I’m here to enlist you in a fight,” he said. “We are fighting for the future of our country. And that is a fight that we are gonna win. That is a promise that I make, with your help.”
Not everyone was pleased with Obama’s town hall meetings. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and a few dozen protesters showed up in Cannon Falls. “We won’t stand idly by while he uses our hard-earned tax dollars to spin his failure to put America back to work,” Priebus said.