Obama economic tour buffeted by low expectations

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By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is traveling Thursday to Jacksonville, Fla., for the latest in a series of heavily promoted economic speeches. But it's hard to find anyone who thinks it's the key to breaking through Washington gridlock — including Obama.

Obama says Washington has taken its eye off the ball. He says endless distractions and politics obstruct what should be the focus: expanding the middle class.

Even Obama acknowledges a good speech can only go so far. Still, he's working to build momentum ahead of fiscal fights approaching in the fall.

The two parties took opposing views of his first round of speeches Wednesday in Illinois and Missouri. Republicans claimed they were pointless and full of rejected ideas. Democrats said Obama was promoting economic priorities that Republicans have refused to entertain.

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