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In Iowa, Obama Underscores Role of Manufacturing in Recovery

President Barack Obama speaks to workers at the Alcoa Davenport Works factory in Bettendorf, Iowa, June 28, 2011
President Barack Obama speaks to workers at the Alcoa Davenport Works factory in Bettendorf, Iowa, June 28, 2011

President Barack Obama paid another visit to the politically-important state of Iowa, as part of his efforts to highlight success from his economic recovery policies.  Iowa will be crucial to Mr. Obama's 2012 re-election prospects, and is a key destination for Republican presidential candidates as well.

The visit to the Alcoa Davenport Works Factory in Bettendorf, Iowa was another in a series Obama has made across the country to highlight examples of strength and innovation in an economy still struggling from the impact of the recession, with an unemployment rate above 9 percent.

The Iowa stop was a follow up to Obama's visit last week to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which also focused on as the importance of technologies and manufacturing, and joint steps by businesses and universities, in boosting job growth and U.S. global competitiveness.

Addressing about 350 employees at Alcoa, the world's leading aluminum products manufacturer, Obama noted that the company was able to re-hire employees laid off during the 2008 financial crisis.

Saying he knows many Americans may be tempted to turn cynical, Obama contrasted what he called "squabbling" in Washington with what he described as the teamwork seen in companies across the country.

"Problem solving all the time," said President Obama. "That is what has made you successful.  That is what will make America successful.  By adapting and innovating but also thinking like a team, instead of turning on each other."

The president's Iowa visit came as the state is in the spotlight for announced or potential Republican presidential candidates challenging Obama's leadership on the economy and other issues.

Republicans have been campaigning there and increasing media advertising ahead of an informal "straw poll" (August 13,2011) seen as a major test for the 2012 Republican presidential field.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann formally announced her candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in Iowa on Monday.  A leader of the activist conservative small government Tea Party movement, she lashed out at Obama's economic policies and predicted he will lose the White House in 2012.

"Make no mistake about it," said Michele Bachmann. "Barack Obama will be a one term president!"

In Washington, President Obama is now deep in the fray of negotiations with Democrats and Republicans on achieving between $2 trillion and $4 trillion in reductions in government deficit spending.

With Republicans resisting Democrat's attempts to find additional revenue sources through tax increases targeting the wealthy, the deficit issue is now linked to an August 2 deadline to raise the government's borrowing limit.

After White House talks with the Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on Monday,  Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that Mr. Obama would meet with a wider group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid warned again of the repercussions of a government default if a compromise cannot be reached and described Republicans as inflexible.  

"The time for empty rhetoric is over," said Senator Reid. "Now it is time for my Republican colleagues to put the good of our economy ahead of their own politics."

Speaking with reporters, Press Secretary Jay Carney provided little in the way of new information, other than to say again the White House believes there is an "opportunity for a substantial deficit reduction" compromise, but one that is balanced.

Carney described the president's meeting with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell as "useful" but declined to elaborate when asked if there was any specific progress from those talks.

As Obama was in Iowa on Tuesday, a new poll showed a high level of public dissatisfaction with the president's handling of the deficit issue.  A new Gallup survey showed American's overall economic confidence remains low, and worse at the end of this month than at a similar point last year.  

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