Obama's Busy Travel Schedule Draws Ire of Critics

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 10:17 PM

By Cathy Burke

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His legislative agenda is going nowhere, but a restless President Barack Obama is traveling everywhere.

From a surprise visit to a Little League game in Washington on May 19, to a burger in Minneapolis on June 26 with a financially struggling voter, to a pool game in Denver on July 8 and a barbecue in Austin, Texas, on July 10, the president's highly choreographed outings are aimed at connecting him to average Americans, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But the strategy could backfire – and probably won't improve his fading approval ratings.

"The fact that the president does shoot pool is a good thing," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman told the Journal. "But is it going to send his approval rating from 40 [percent] to 60? No."

"These are useful tactics . . . but the truth is, the president's approval ratings aren't going to go to 60 until circumstances change."

Trips outside the Beltway only highlight the impasse between the president and congressional Republicans, another observer said.

"He's given up all pretense now of working with Congress," Bert Rockman, a professor of political science at Purdue University, told the Journal.

"He's really frustrated with the environment he's in. All presidents are, but this one is more than most."

Republicans complain there's plenty to do in the Oval Office to keep the president engaged, including crises in the Middle East and his $3.7 billion request to deal with a flood of immigrants sneaking across the southern border.

Yet instead of visiting the "porous U.S. border" on his July road trip, Sarah Palin complained in an op-ed column, Obama was too busy "hobnobbing" and "getting buzzed on suds."

A Breitbart News columnist, noting the president's reportedly "busy social calendar,"
blasted the engagements as "relief from a job which requires the president to handle less airy and more immediate matters, such as the situation in Israel, Iraq, or on the border. Those issues aren't raised at the president's dinners, we're told."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also blasted Obama's "endless campaigning" – and suggested he meet with coal families in Kentucky.

"Mr. President: the campaign trips can wait," the Kentucky Republican said, the Journal reported. "You've recently expressed an interest in hanging around middle-class Americans for a change. What I'm saying is: here's your chance."

Even some Democrats have criticized Obama for traveling to Texas this month but not going to the border, where thousands of children have poured into the country.

Obama concedes he wants out of town.

"What I've said to my team is 'get me out of Washington,'" the president told donors at one fundraising event, so he could talk to regular Americans.

"The American people want to see the president not just in the Rose Garden or behind a podium," Anita Dunn, who has served as Obama's communications director, told the Journal. "It is important for presidents to feel as though they are not losing touch."

It's not a new concept for the administration: Obama went on a "White House to Main Street Tour'' in late 2009 as well.

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