President Obama told a crowd of Iowans he’s “pretty frustrated” by the partisan gridlock of Washington, D.C. Obama spoke to nearly 600 people late Monday afternoon in Decorah.
“The problem is is that we’ve got the kind of partisan brinksmanship that is willing to put party ahead of country,” Obama said. “that’s more interested in seeing their political opponents lose than seeing the country win.”
Republicans denounced the bus tour Obama is taking this week through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, dismissing the president as a “campaigner-in-chief.” For his part, Obama blamed Republicans in congress for the recent downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating.
“There is no reason why we had to go through this downgrade because that did not have to do with economics. That had to do with politics,” Obama said, to applause from the crowd. “It was an assessment that our congress is not able to come up with the kinds of compromises that move this country forward and I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty frustrated about that.”
The latest Gallup poll shows the president’s approval rating has hit 41 percent, its lowest level. Public approval ratings for congress have hit historic lows as well, and Obama accused some Republicans in congress of taking a “very unreasonable” stand in the recent debt debate.
“I understand that after this last mid-term (election) you voted for divided government, but you didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said, and the crowd applauded. “You didn’t vote for a broken government that can’t make any decisions, can’t move the country forward at all.”
The head of the Iowa Tea Party confronted Obama at the end of the event in Decorah, asking Obama if the vice president had called Tea Party activists “terrorists” during a private meeting on capitol hill before the debt ceiling vote. Obama suggested he was all for toning down the rhetoric since some Republicans have called him a socialist who wasn’t born in the country.
Obama is on a three-day bus tour through the nation’s mid-section. He started Monday in Minnesota. Today he’ll hold a rural economic forum at the community college in Peosta before leaving for events planned in Illinois.
(Reporting by Darin Swenson, KDEC, Decorah)