President Obama’s aides say he’ll be in southern Iowa today to visit with business owners, workers and “everyday” Americans who are trying to navigate the challenges of the recession. One of Obama’s stops today is Ottumwa where Trudy Caviness runs a photo-processing shop on Main Street in downtown Ottumwa.

“Because we make pictures for photographers, there’s many Main Street photographers that are our customers…Photography is not a necessity and so it’s something that they are cutting down on or cutting out on,” Caviness says. “And some of the regulations that we have just kind of hurts us in being able to compete with everyone else.” 

Caviness is chair of the Wapello County Republican Party and she was among the speakers at a G.O.P. rally in Ottumwa last night. “We feel our freedoms are under attack by several things that the government has done and passed,” Caviness said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “We want our freedoms back.”

Caviness, though, doesn’t expect Obama to face a hostile crowd in Ottumwa.  She even knows a few Republicans who plan to attend the town hall meeting at Indian Hills Community College. “I’ve gotten a couple of emails from that people who said even though I don’t agree with his policies, it will be an honor to go see the president,” Caviness said.  “I think that’s something that Iowans do and part of it is because of our Caucus mentality, we go see people that we may not agree with completely, but we respect what they’re doing.” 

Caviness and her husband, who is a member of the Ottumwa city council, have been running their small business in Ottumwa since 1970. New government regulations, especially those included in the health care reform law, are her main complaint about the Obama administration. “We need to have the government out of business so small business can grow and thrive,” she said.  “And you need to have the knowledge that the rules aren’t going to change halfway through the game I guess is what I’d like to say.” 

Obama’s first stop today in Iowa is in Fort Madison where he’ll tour the Siemens Energy plant that makes the blades for wind turbines. Obama will end his Tuesday in Des Moines and he’s scheduled to stop by an invitation-only event at a cafe.

Navigating the 2010 election was the focus of a video statement from Obama that was sent yesterday to Obama’s 2008 supporters who are part of the “Organizing for America” group. “Today the health insurance companies, the Wall Street banks and the special interests who have ruled Washington for too long are already focused on November’s congressional elections,” Obama said in the video. “They see these elections as a chance to put their allies back in power and to undo all we have accomplished, so this year I need your help once more.” 

According to Obama, Democrats need to “reconnect” with those who voted for the first time in 2008 and ensure they turn out in 2010.