President Obama's bus tour rolled into Virginia on Tuesday afternoon, after a day and a half in North Carolina.
The president has been using the tour to promote his jobs plan and to criticize an alternative plan put forward by Senate Republicans.
Another Day, Another Diner
Earlier Tuesday, the president stopped at Reid's House Restaurant in Reidsville, N.C., bypassing the special — spaghetti and Texas toast — in favor of a cheeseburger and sweet tea.
The shirt-sleeved president seemed to be enjoying himself. He told an audience in Jamestown earlier in the day that North Carolina has a special brand of Southern hospitality.
"People are just gracious," he said. "Even the folks who don't vote for me are nice to me."
And make no mistake, Obama has encountered plenty of people who didn't vote for him as his custom bus rolled through the midsection of the state, where the hardwood furniture business has taken a beating and unemployment is high. At a high school rally Monday night to promote his jobs plan in Wilkes County, Obama said he doesn't want to limit himself to liberal enclaves like Asheville or Chapel Hill.
"You know, people tell me, 'This is kind of a Republican area,'" he said, "'so why would you come here instead of going to where there are a whole lot of Democrats? I said, 'Look, this is an American Jobs Act — it's not the Democratic Jobs Act; it's not the Republican Jobs Act. It's the American Jobs Act. We need to pass it.'"
The competing Republican jobs plan was offered up by a group of GOP senators. Obama's 2008 opponent, John McCain, detailed that plan in a news conference last week.
"Obviously, President Obama has his plan. There is a dramatic difference between ours and his, because President Obama and my friends on the other side of the aisle in the Senate believe that they can create jobs through government spending," McCain said. "We believe that we can create jobs through growth."
The Republican Plan
The Republican growth strategy, which many of the GOP presidential candidates have also adopted, relies heavily on lower tax rates, expanded domestic energy production, and the reduction or elimination of government regulations.
Obama has been taking direct aim at those ideas throughout his bus trip.
"And here's what the plan boils down to: We're going to gut environmental regulations. We're going to drill more. We're going to roll back Wall Street reform. And we're going to repeal health care reform. Now that's a plan," he said. "But it's not a jobs plan."
The White House has repeatedly cited private economists who say the president's plan would do more to encourage job growth in the short run than the GOP alternative. Obama told supporters in Jamestown on Tuesday that ultimately it's up to them to decide.
"I think more teachers in the classroom is a jobs plan. More construction workers rebuilding our schools is a jobs plan. Tax cuts for small-business owners and working families is a jobs plan. That's the choice we face," he said.
Obama says he has bent over backward to cooperate with Republicans. They have found some common ground, including a trio of free-trade bills that the president is set to sign later this week.
But this bus tour is less about fostering cooperation than drawing bright lines between the two parties — lines that likely will only deepen between now and next November.