President Obama is speaking in Cannon Falls, MN this hour. He told the audience that the nation's problems aren't too big to fix if the nation's political leaders start working towards solutions. Obama also showed that he's going to use a political strategy employed by past presidents - run against Congress.
"I'm really happy to be out of Washington right now," Obama told the crowd.
Obama's Cannon Falls stop is the first of a three state bus tour to discuss the nation's economy. The president said the nation's economy has hit some rough spots over the last six months but he said some of those problems are "self-inflicted." In particular, he said the recent debate over the nation's debt ceiling was unnecessary.
Obama told the crowd that the nation's problems CAN be fixed - the question is how.
"And what's been happening over the last six months, and a little bit longer than that if we're honest with ourselves, is that we have a political culture that doesn't seem willing to make the tough choices to move America forward."
Obama also encouraged the audience to lobby their members to start addressing the nation's problems. He said he's willing to support Republican efforts to erase the nation's deficit but also wants to raise taxes on the nation's top earners. That proposal has made little headway in Congress because House Republicans oppose it.
"I'm not here just to enjoy the nice weather. I'm here to enlist you in a fight. We're fighting for the future of our country. And that is a fight that we are going to win."
Obama's trip to Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois comes just two days after GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll of 2012 candidates.
Republicans in Minnesota held a rally protesting Obama's visit. They said they hoped the eventual Republican nominee will defeat Obama in 2012.
"We're ready to fight and we're here to take back our country," Priebus told the crowd, announcing the plans for the "Obama's Debt-end Bus Tour" in response to Obama's three-day campaign tour through the Upper Midwest.
Obama is making the trip at a time when both he and Congress are suffering from low approval ratings.
You can listen to the first part of Obama's speech here: Listen