Talk of the towns

"Talk of the towns" Continued...

Issue: "Food stamps surge," Nov. 19, 2011

But he accused the president of not changing the Washington culture like he promised. "The change he has brought has not been good," Morris said. "We can't stand 14 more months of this much less four more years."

Morris opposes Obama's proposed tax increases: "Why are you going to penalize somebody for getting off their front porch and making something of themselves?" He also thinks that Obama's insistence on bigger government shows that he doesn't grasp that the country is broke: "I'm an economics major, and I can't wrap my mind around it. But I do know that I can't eat steak five times a week when I'm broke."

However, two retirees also visiting the post office said Obama deserves a second term. "I don't think Congress has really supported him," said Alvin Hayspell. "They are just kicking him any way they can," added Nathaniel Harrison.

Obama's campaign tactic to blame Congress for the stagnant economy seems to be taking hold with several people I talked to on my trip. "If they vote against taking steps that we know will put Americans back to work right now," Obama said on this bus tour, "then they're not going to have to answer to me. They're going to have to answer to you."

But the biggest discovery I had following in Obama's footsteps was the near unanimous discontent over Obama's GOP challengers. Creed in Reidsville said she is tired of the GOP debates. "Everybody huffs and puffs and says whatever they can to get into office." Hayspell of Brodnax answered my question about the Republican contenders with a question of his own that should unsettle conservatives: "Who's running?"

Obama's trips to court voters in states that bucked their GOP traditions in 2008 will continue over the next year. Of the nine states that went Democrat in the 2008 presidential election after voting for a Republican in 2004, eight are listed as toss-ups for 2012. For Obama to win, he likely needs to recapture them all again.

Obama will be in his element on the campaign trail. But, as his armored Ground Force One racks up the miles in the coming months, Obama's reelection hopes may not survive too many homemade roadside signs like the one a woman held aloft as the presidential motorcade drove through the North Carolina mountains last month: "We Believed, We Voted. Now What."

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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