WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama launches a political counteroffensive this week, weighed down by a stunted economy, wilting support among some of his most ardent backers, and a daily bashing from the slew of Republicans campaigning for his job.
"We've still got a long way to go to get to where we need to be. We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it's going to take time to get out of it," the president told the country over the weekend, all but pleading for people to stick with him.
A deeply unsettled political landscape, with voters in a fiercely anti-incumbent mood, is framing the 2012 presidential race 15 months before Americans decide whether to give Obama a second term or hand power to the Republicans. Trying to ride out what seems to be an unrelenting storm of economic anxiety, people in the United States increasingly are voicing disgust with most all of the men and women, Obama included, they sent to Washington to govern them.
With his approval numbers sliding, the Democratic president will try to ease their worries and sustain his resurrected fighting spirit when he sets off today on a bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The trip is timed to dilute the GOP buzz emanating from the Midwest after Republicans gathered in Iowa over the weekend for a first test of the party's White House candidates.
"You have just sent a message that Barack Obama will be a one-term president," Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann told supporters after winning Saturday's Iowa straw poll.
Republicans also had to keep an eye on Charleston, where Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race.
Perry, the nation's longest-serving governor, told his appreciative audience that Obama's government had "an insatiable desire to spend our children's inheritance." He accused Obama of presiding over an "economic disaster" that has been "downgrading our hope for a better future."
"I'll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your lives as I can," Perry said, clearly bowing to his tea party backing. Specifics for turning his promises into realities were absent.