With poll numbers falling for both Obama and Congress after a nasty political fight over raising the country's borrowing limit and spending cuts, Americans are in a bad humor...I'm going to say he's not avoiding Wisconsin. First, he combined the same 3 states in a trip last year. Second, his trip relates to the GOP candidates for President, which makes Iowa obvious and Minnesota semi-obvious, with 2 Minnesota candidates in the race at the time the trip was planned. And Illinois is his home state. Third, there are 2 recall elections in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I think it's good etiquette not to step into the middle of that. And it might not even help. I remember when he came to Madison in September 2010 and promoted Russ Feingold. Now, Obama has been criticized for not personally participating in the Wisconsin protests. From last March:
The president will get a chance to absorb the public's anger and do his best to give optimistic answers as he motors between town hall stops.
In Iowa, Republican candidates for president just squared off for a high-stakes debate and straw poll. The president will also visit Illinois as part of his bus tour, his first since the 2008 campaign.
Obama was unlikely to engage any of his potential Republican rivals by name, aides said, but he's already indicated plans to draw sharp contrasts between his ideas on the economy and the Republican approach, which the president recently dismissed to little more than slashing spending on vital programs like education and Medicare, the program that provides health care for the poor....
The bus tour itinerary takes Obama through three states he won in 2008 but where he now needs to shore up his standing....
Obama made a similar outing last year, traveling the Midwest in a two-day, three-state tour in April 2010 that took him to Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. There was no bus, but the president's motorcade made hours-long drives through rural areas, passing school children waving American flags and seniors sitting on lawn chairs.
President Obama has no current plans to visit Wisconsin despite pledging as a presidential candidate to “walk on that picket line” should workers be denied bargaining rights.He's kept his distance from the Wisconsin protest crowd. So maybe he is specifically avoiding us on this midwest bus tour, but I think the focus on the presidential campaign and the mirror-image trip last fall explain the omission. Still, I can certainly see why he doesn't want to entangle himself in the Wisconsin mess. Scott Walker is not his current opponent, his connections to the public unions is best played down, and there's too much extremism and anger around here.
Still, at some point, he's going to need us.
ADDED: John Nichols criticizes Obama from the left for his failure to come to Wisconsin.