President Obama kicked off his three-day tour of Iowa by blasting the man Mitt Romney’s just chose as his running mate. During a speech late this morning in Council Bluffs, Obama said Congressman Paul Ryan had failed farmers.
“He is one of the leaders of congress standing in the way, so if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this Farm Bill is to Iowa and our rural communities,” Obama said. “We’ve got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa.”
AUDIO of Obama’s half-hour speech in Council Bluffs
Obama suggested passage of the Farm Bill will provide some financial stability to farmers who’re suffering through the worst drought since the Great Depression.
“Farmers, ranchers depend on a good crop season to pay the bills and put a roof over their heads and I know things are tough right now,” Obama said. “The best way to help these states is for the folks in congress to pass a Farm Bill that not only helps farmers and ranches respond to natural disasters, but also makes some necessary reforms and gives farmers and ranchers some long-term certainty.”
The Farm Bill has passed the Democratically-led U.S. Senate but has stalled in the House, where Republicans control the debate agenda. Top Republican leaders have tabled the bill, hoping to avoid an election year showdown over federal farm subsidies, an issue that divides Republicans.
“Unfortunately too many members of congress are blocking the Farm Bill from becoming law,” Obama said today in Council Bluffs.
Obama suggested Ryan, as part of the House Republican leadership, is partly responsible for the partisan gridlock in Washington.
“It’s always a problem, waiting for congress,” Obama said in Council Bluffs. “In the meantime, I’ve made sure my administration, led by Tom Vilsack, is doing everything we can to provide relief.”
Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who is now the U.S. secretary of agriculture, has used his authority to let farmers use conservation reserve acres as forage for their livestock. In addition, Vilsack has declared drought-stricken zones as federal disaster areas, making farmers eligible for certain government loans. Ryan made a stop at the Iowa State Fair today and did not respond to reporters’ questions on a variety of topics, including the drought. Ryan said he would “play stump the V.P.” with reporters later.
A spokesman for the Romney campaign issued a written statement this afternoon. “Paul Ryan hails from an agriculture state and supported disaster relief, and the truth is no one will work harder to defend farmers and ranchers than the Romney-Ryan ticket,” said Shawn McCoy, the communications director for Romney’s Iowa campaign.
Obama’s midday speech in Council Bluffs was the opening event of his campaign swing through Iowa and he told the crowd he’s headed to the Iowa State Fair.
“Michelle has told me I cannot have a fried Twinkie,” Obama said and the Council Bluffs crowd laughed. “But I will be checking out the Butter Cow and I understand this year there is a Chocolate Moose, so I’m going to have to take a look at that if I can. The last time I went to the State Fair Secret Service let me do the bumper cars…but not this time.”
Ryan, during his remarks earlier this afternoon at the Fair, suggested Obama wouldn’t be able to make it to the fairgrounds in Des Moines from Council Bluffs because he only knows “left turns.”