News / USA

Obama's 'White House to Main Street' Campaign Draws Thousands in Illinois

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On the final stop of a trip to promote his initiatives to rural America, President Barack Obama stopped in Quincy, Illinois.  A mostly supportive crowd of close to three thousand people greeted the President at a time when lawmakers are debating sweeping changes in financial regulation.  Quincy dealt with a difficult economic downturn in the 1970s and 1980s, but it has suffered less from the current recession than other parts of the country. 

Quincy is accustomed to highs and lows. Situated along the banks of the Mississippi River, flooding brought disaster to the town  most recently in 2008. But floods of woes connected to the current economic downtown are harder to find in Quincy.

Which is why President Obama may have chosen Quincy for his "White House to Main Street Campaign,"  according to Amy Looten, Executive Director of the Quincy Chamber of Commerce.  "If he's looking for a community to show the rest of the country that things are turning around, and small communities like ours have survived the recession, I think he's found it here in Quincy," said Looten.

She says the hallmarks of the recession, like plummeting real estate values and widespread layoffs, have largely avoided Quincy. She goes on to say that "The biggest layoff we had in manufacturing was probably 50 people."

But Quincy is no stranger to hardship.  Several thousand jobs were lost when electronics manufacturer Motorola moved away in 1976.  The town has seen a steady decline in manufacturing ever since.

While Quincy's current unemployment rate is slightly lower than state and national averages, a growing concern is financial regulation.

Many residents are concerned about their savings and how to protect them. Quincy resident Rena Quigle reflects that concern, "My retirement was affected on Wall Street with everything that has happened, and I lost a lot of money through that, so I believe something needs to be done."

An Obama supporter who works in nearby Iowa, Quigle wants to see bipartisan support for financial regulation saying "I think that both sides of the isle need to come together, but if the Democrats have to put it together, then I am all for it.  I'm 100 percent behind it."

Even those opposed to many of President Obama's initiatives agree that reform is needed.  Tea Party member and local business owner Bruce Bruening is one, saying "A lot of companies, their retirement plans aren't what they were before then, and we're kind of dissatisfied with the ways things are being run on Wall Street and just need change."

That change - on Wall Street - is a top priority for President Obama and Democratic lawmakers as they seek to secure the largest financial regulation package since the Great Depression.

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