Today's trip by President Obama to Ohio marks the start of an aggressive campaign by the White House to underscore the positive effects of the new economic stimulus law.
A senior Obama adviser confirms that a "concerted effort" will be made in the coming weeks to highlight ways in which the economy is getting an immediate boost from the stimulus. It's part of an overall campaign to improve consumer and business confidence.
Next week, the president will meet with state officials who are administering stimulus-related programs. They will discuss how the legislation is helping to preserve and create jobs. White House officials are particularly sensitive to the jobs issue, driven home again today by a Labor Department report that the unemployment rate increased to 8.1 percent in February
Today, Obama attended the graduation ceremony in Columbus of two dozen police recruits whose jobs, officials say, are being saved with stimulus money.
"They are cops that weren't going to be hired that are now because of stimulus money that the city is getting," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One this morning en route to Columbus.
Republican strategists, meanwhile, have a different agenda: Scour the economic-stimulus law for wasteful or profligate spending that will frustrate or anger the voters. "The Democrats have put a target on their backs, which is the stimulus package," says a prominent GOP insider. "There are 100 'bridges to nowhere' inside the stimulus package, and there are a thousand $6 hammers. We haven't found them yet, but they will come out."
GOP strategists point out that nearly all the congressional Democrats are tied to the stimulus law because it was fashioned by their leaders and party members voted nearly unanimously for it. Republicans say the law will cause problems for the Democrats in another way. "A large number of people think the stimulus package has a job for them, and they will be very disappointed," he says.