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Tue 16 Aug 2011 12:16 PM

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Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest

Three-day trip will help US president test his grassroots support ahead of polls in 2012

Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
President Barack Obama speaks at a town hall style meeting at the Seed Savers Exchange on August 15, 2011 in Decorah, Iowa. Obama is on a three-day bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois where he is scheduled to speak with people about economic issues (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
The president's three-day trip, on a black bus with darkened windows and red and blue flashing lights, started in Minnesota, wound through backroads, rolling hills and farm communities to Iowa, and will end in Illinois (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
The White House says Obama is on a listening tour to hear from Americans about the economy and talk about how to boost jobs and hiring. With U.S. unemployment mired at just above 9 percent, jobs are expected to be the central issue for voters in next year's presidential and congressional elections
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
Obama blasted Republicans for playing politics with the economy on Monday as he took to the road on a bus tour of the U.S. Midwest to focus on job growth and distance himself from anger toward Washington that could dent his 2012 re-election hopes (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
Obama won all three states in the 2008 presidential election, although Iowa has recently played host to Republicans vying to battle him for the White House next year who have been criticizing his record as they crisscrossed the state (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
Obama said he would put forward a plan for economic growth when Congress returns from summer recess and challenged lawmakers to take action (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
The tour also exposes the Democratic president to voters who, polls suggest, are furious about political gridlock in Washington as he begins serious campaigning for the November 2012 election (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
President Barack Obama greets people as he arrives for a town hall style meeting at the Seed Savers Exchange on August 15, 2011 in Decorah, Iowa (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
Obama touted his job-growth agenda, which includes extending a payroll tax cut, finalizing free-trade pacts and promoting infrastructure projects to create construction jobs (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
But Obama's hands are tied by a divided Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives and oppose any significant spending measures to stimulate growth (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
A Gallup tracking poll completed on Saturday showed Obama with a 39 percent approval rating - the lowest of his presidency - but recent polls have shown far lower approval ratings for Congress (Getty Images)
Obama hits the road in bus tour of US Midwest
Obama holds a rural economic forum in Peosta, Iowa, on Tuesday and town hall meetings in Atkinson and Alpha, Illinois, on Wednesday before returning to Washington. The unmistakable campaign style of the trip will help the Democratic president test his organisation and grassroots support as the field of Republican presidential candidates takes clearer shape (Getty Images)