Marion Patch: Obama is Coming to CR Because it is a "Jobs City"

The commander in chief is making the first stop on his State of the Union tour to Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday.

The reason U.S. President Barack Obama is coming to Cedar Rapids on Wednesday is because Ceder Rapids is a "jobs city," at least that's the reasoning of Diane Hoffman, chair of the Linn County Demorcratic Party.

Obama is set to appear at noon at Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids.

"Cedar Rapids is the top Iowa city for manufacturing jobs," Hoffman said. "Some of the points (Obama) is trying to make are for increasing manufacturing jobs. We have a lot of manufacturing jobs because of the agricultural base, the manufacturing industry and the high technology industry. He can show how communities can build and how families can build within these communities."

Cedar Rapids will be Obama's first stop on a five-state tour following his .

Check back on any to join in a Live Blog of the address with commentary and analysis.

Even though the city may not be at it’s peak, Hoffman said it may be the ideal city in Iowa to go to when Obama talks about jobs and manufacturing, which she thinks he is likely to do. That’s important, because manufacturing jobs, which have become central in this debate, offer a significant multiplier effect, which means that one job in manufacturing creates multiple jobs in other industries. 

"Having a manufacturing center is something that can produce so many types of jobs," she said. "Energy and wind power — how many times have you been down a highway that is carrying one of these huge pieces to these turbines? It is a model for job creation if you increase your manufacturing sector. With that, you can build Cedar Rapids and have a (economic) platform."

The reason this may be a powerful message for Obama is that he can make a link from manufacturing, with it’s multiplier effect, to re-building the middle class, enhancing the “American dream.”

“There is a feeling that the landscape just isn’t there for everybody to obtain the American Dream," Hoffman said. "It always has been the belief that hard work can achieve that. The way you do that is providing good jobs for the middle class."

It sounds like an simple, positive and effective story to sell to Iowans and the larger American public for his inevitable re-election campaign . But with fierce competition from the Republican party in the Iowa Caucus and his falling polling data, why would he even bother coming back to Iowa in the first place?

University of Iowa associate professor of political science Tim Hagle said, plainly, Obama has a good reason.

"It should come as no surprise that president Obama likes Iowa," he said. "If a nominee for either party wins the candidacy and the presidency, those folks like to come back. It was true of George W. Bush, even in his re-election campaign. The Iowa Caucus gave (Obama) that shot he needed. It allowed allowed him to stay in the race and win the presidency — that usually brings back fond memories."

More than that, Hagle noted that each of the five states he’ll be visiting are battleground states for the 2012 election, something he said is not a coincidence.

Hagle said that, while this isn’t an official campaign stop, he personally feels that this is representative of Obama’s being in "campaign mode" for quite some time now. Hagle added this would be a good opportunity for him to challenge some Republican presidential contenders on their accusations.

But Hoffman noted that Obama still has a lot of support in Iowa. She said that over 20,000 Iowans caucused for him earlier this month, 2,000 alone in Linn County. 

"This may be because we are more engaged right now. The policies that Obama is outlining are ones that we believe in," she said. "Democrats really have a stake in this election."

Neither Hagle nor Hoffman wanted to predict whether that Democratic engagement can bring a re-election of Obama.


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