The “rural” part of President Barack Obama’s rural economy bus tour was pretty much limited to his answers to audience questions during his Cannon Falls stop Monday.
Obama’s prepared re¬marks focused on blaming Republicans for not compromising but did not touch on what White House officials had promised would be a bus tour dealing with the rural economy.
But the opening question, by 19-year-old Cecelia Findorff got “rural” into the rural tour when she asked about renewable energy.
Obama said that he continues to work to make sure 98 percent of the country is served by broadband Internet service, as well as mobile phone service.
State Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, may hold a different political stance from Democrat Obama, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t excited to hear him speak in Cannon Falls.
In a five-minute meeting with Obama, Howe said he asked for a blue-ribbon panel to study nuclear waste storage. As former Red Wing mayor, Howe dealt with that issue from the nearby nuclear power plant for years.
Prior to the president’s speech, Howe said he thought most people would be interested in hearing him talk about tax reform.
“But I also hope the president is coming to listen to rural America,” Howe added.
Howe said Obama brought a lot of energy to his state Senate district.
On a day when Hi Quality Bakery in Cannon Falls is typically closed, the place ended up selling every patriotic cookie on its shelves Monday.
It’s marking the chair that Obama sat in while he stopped for lunch at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls. The White House said he dined with the veterans to show his support to rural veterans and military families.
President Barack Obama chose a lush, green park at a scenic bend in the Cannon River on Monday to launch a three-day bus tour of the American heartland. Obama told the friendly, sun-splashed crowd of 500 that he came to southeastern Minnesota "to hear from you."
There's no shortage of job-creation ideas, he said. What's needed
Howe got a private audience with Obama before his speech. I do care. Nine-year-old Vanessa Peer of Cannon Falls got in the last question of the day. After wishing her aunt Val Dockter a very public happy birthday, she asked the president, "Why Cannon Falls?''
Obama hesitated only slightly. What was it like asking the president of the United States a question, she was asked. The White House's stated reason for stopping at Hannah's Bend Park was to promote rural job growth and allay fears about the economy. Except for state Sen. Howe, there wasn't another Republican official in sight.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pulled into town shortly before Obama's bus arrived to rally a group of tea party members and college Republicans.
He pointed to job losses in Minnesota since Obama took office and labeled the president's bus tour a "debt-end tour."
As crowd members left the park, they seemed pleased with Obama's visit and the issues he addressed during the hourlong session.
"It went really good,'' said Debra Wood of Red Wing, who began standing in line at the Cannon Falls City Hall at 3 a.m. Sunday for tickets. Cannon Falls was hosting a president for the first time since July 29, 1928, when then-President Calvin Coolidge attended the dedication of the Colvill Memorial, where Civil War hero Col. William Colvill is buried.
Hosting another president was a boost for civic pride.
"This is totally awesome for a small town like ours," said Pat Anderson, president of the Cannon Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Ticketholders sat at picnic tables on a grassy lawn surrounded by tall trees as Obama arrived. No food was grilled at the park, but after the meeting, Obama had his caravan stop at the Old Market deli, a quaint sandwich shop and ice cream parlor. President Barack Obama arrived in Cannon Falls, Minnesota just after 11:30 a.m. Monday, kicking off his three-day Midwest bus tour. Joining the president on the bus ride from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken, among others.
Obama jogged to the stage and warmly greeted the Cannon Falls crowd, telling everyone to take a seat a settle in for the town hall meeting, which started just before the noon hour.
"Hello, Cannon Falls. Hello, Minnesota," Obama said. When a little girl asked the president why he stopped in Cannon Falls, he said, "Because I heard Cannon Falls has some of the brightest and best looking kids around. The town hall meeting gives the president a chance to directly hear the frustration of the American people with politicians in Washington.
Obama said the following on the national budget and economy...
What's broken is our politics.”
The president is calling for a renewed unemployment payroll tax cut, tax breaks for hiring veterans and patent reform as part of the economic solution.
Obama said the following on Republicans...
Obama criticized Republican presidential candidates for saying during last weeks’ debate in Iowa they will not accept any tax hikes to balance budget.
Obama said the following on Social Security…
The problem is our politics.”
I do care"
After Cannon Falls, Obama is heading south to Decorah, Iowa for another town hall Monday afternoon.