From The New York Times:
Remarks of President Obama at the town-hall style meeting in Elkhart, Ind., as provided by the White House
President Barack Obama traveled today to Elkhart, Indiana for a town hall on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The President spoke directly with Elkhart residents about the impact the plan will have on their lives, and answered questions about the challenges that they face.
In Elkhart, where 8,000 jobs were lost and unemployment tripled in the last year alone, the President shared his specific plans to bring jobs back to the community, provide tax relief, and help lower the cost of health care and college for working families.
The President was joined today by Secretary Ray LaHood, Senator Evan Bayh, Representatives Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill, Brad Ellsworth, Fred Upton, and Andre Carson, and former Representatives Tim Roemer and Lee Hamilton.
From Politico (February 8):
[...] Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar won’t accompany President Obama to his home state tomorrow, despite an invitation from the president.
Indiana’s other senator, Democrat Evan Bayh, will be aboard Air Force One, along with six seven current and former members of Congress, one of whom, Brad Ellsworth, voted against the House bill.
A White House official confirmed that Lugar had been invited; a Lugar spokesman didn’t respond to a question of why the senator would not be present.
Also on the trip: Rep. Fred Upton, who represents a district in Michigan along the Indiana border, who voted against the stimulus package in the House. But he also immediately issued a statement afterwards signaling he could be persuaded.
ELKHART, Indiana (CNN) — Seeking to rekindle last year’s election magic, President Obama traded the beltway for the heartland Monday, hitting the road to make the case for his controversial $800 billion stimulus package in a part of the country particularly hard hit by the economic downturn.
Addressing a raucous, campaign-style town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama warned that the road to economic recovery would take years, and that a failure to pass an effective stimulus plan quickly could result in an “economic crisis as deep and as dire as the Great Depression.”
The president will take his case for the stimulus plan to a wider audience Monday night as he holds his first prime-time White House news conference.
Elkhart has seen its unemployment rate triple to more than 15 percent over the past year. The city’s jobless rate is roughly double the national average; a number of the nation’s top recreational vehicle makers are located in Elkhart, and hundreds of workers at those plants have lost their jobs.
The president didn’t travel to Elkhart “to explain Washington’s process to them, but instead to highlight for Washington the problems and pain facing Americans,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The president repeated a pledge that his plan would save or create 3 million to 4 million jobs over the next two years. He claimed that 90 percent of those jobs would be generated by the private sector, a rebuttal of some conservative critics who have argued that his plan amounts to little more than a government jobs bill.
Obama’s Indiana road trip came only hours before a key Senate vote on his stimulus plan. Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, are trying to win 60 votes in order to cut off debate and force a final vote on the plan as early as Tuesday.
Leading Senate Republicans warned Sunday that the administration’s stimulus plan will lead to what one called a “financial disaster.”
“Everybody on the street in America understands that,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the package and efforts to shore up the struggling banking system will put the United States on “a road to financial disaster.”
But Lawrence Summers, the head of the administration’s National Economic Council, said Republicans have lost their credibility on the issue.
“Those who presided over the last eight years — the eight years that brought us to the point where we inherit trillions of dollars of deficit, an economy that’s collapsing more rapidly than at any time in the last 50 years — don’t seem to me in a strong position to lecture about the lessons of history,” Summers told ABC’s “This Week.”