In the Midwest, Obama seeks his own economic help

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PEOSTA, Iowa (AP) — Seeking some help from rural America, President Barack Obama on Tuesday implored Iowans to share ideas with him about how leaders can give an economic jolt to the nation’s heartland. He promised better days in a time of relentless joblessness, saying, “We’ll get through this moment of challenge.”

The president pulled into this northeastern Iowa town with some modest announcements of federal support, include targeting loans to rural small businesses and recruitment of more doctors for small rural hospitals. But he seemed more intent on getting some guidance himself, and presenting himself as president who does not think Washington knows best.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from you about what else we can do to jumpstart the economy here,” Obama told the farmers, business owners and others gathered at Northeast Iowa Community College for an economic forum put together by the White House. The president even took part in breakout sessions.

The political backdrop was the same rural state where Obama’s first run for the presidency took flight. On an official bus tour through the Midwest that in every way felt like a re-election campaign trip, the president was crossing Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois over three days before heading on a summer vacation.

Obama, opening the forum, took another shot a Republicans in Congress for what he called a harmful practice of putting party above country.