Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Monday urged local Republicans to help prevent President Barack Obama from being reelected in 2012.
Priebus spoke at a rally in Cannon Falls, where about 150 Republicans gathered ahead of Obama's scheduled town hall event in the city in southeastern Minnesota.
"We're ready to fight and we're here to take back our country," Priebus told the crowd, announcing the plans for the "Obama's Debt-end Bus Tour" in response to Obama's three-day tour through the Upper Midwest.
Obama is kicking off the tour in Cannon Falls before traveling to towns in Iowa and Illinois. The tour comes amid growing concern over the economy.
Priebus said Republicans will hold counter-events at each of Obama's stops. He said Obama has only made the economy worse, and said the president has been "all talk-no action" on jobs.
"We're here because we're worried and we're concerned about the future of our country," he said. "We are in a battle for freedom in this country. ... A country that has to surrender its sovereignty to its bondholders can't guarantee prosperity or freedom to anybody."
At one point, Priebus was interrupted by hecklers who blamed the economic turmoil and debt situation on former President George W. Bush's tax cuts. The crowd took over shortly thereafter, chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Local Republican Rod Johnson later asked the crowd to take their rally signs to Main Street to greet the president's motorcade. Johnson called the president's visit "nothing more than a taxpayer funded campaign stop."
Obama's town hall event is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m.
(MPR reporter Tim Nelson contributed to this report.)