President Barack Obama will seek to tap into public anger at Wall Street excess to turn up the heat on congressional Republicans as he embarks on a campaign-style bus tour on Monday to rally support for his stalled jobs package.
Hitting the road for the next three days, Obama heads to North Carolina and Virginia, both vital to his 2012 re-election chances, with an increasingly populist approach aimed at winning passage of at least parts of his $447 billion jobs plan.
His visits to two pivotal Southern states come against the backdrop of protests against corporate greed and economic inequality that began weeks ago in New York and have spread to other cities, inspiring global “Day of Rage” demonstrations against the world financial system over the weekend.
Obama - whose poll numbers have fallen over his handling of the stagnant economy and high unemployment - has voiced sympathy with the grievances of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement but has done so cautiously, not least because of his own economic team’s ties to the financial industry.
“The president will continue to acknowledge the frustration that he himself shares about the need for Washington to do more to support our economic recovery and to ensure that the interest of the 99 percent of Americans is well-represented,” spokesman Josh Earnest said when asked whether Obama would offer a message for Wall Street protesters on his trip south.
The Democratic president wants to step up the pressure on Republicans as he tries to push through his jobs package piece by piece, starting this week after his full plan went down to defeat in Congress last week.