(CNN) - President Obama on Tuesday took his stimulus sales pitch to a town hall in Fort Myers, Florida, a politically conservative region suddenly reeling under double-digit unemployment and the highest home foreclosure rate in the nation.
The visit comes a day after the president warned a national television audience that America is teetering on the brink of economic calamity. It is his second town hall meeting in as many days.
Only three Senate Republicans have supported the plan so far. It received no Republican votes in the House of Representatives.
Read the full remarks after the jump
(CNN) – Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist appeared with President Barack Obama Tuesday to urge passage of the president’s $838 billion stimulus package.
Watch: Crist introduces Pres. Obama
“Our budget is in balance here in Florida,” said Crist, introducing Obama in Fort Myers. “In fact, we’ve had to cut about $7 billion over the past two years, and we haven’t raised taxes and we’re still in balance. But, to be candid, it’s getting harder every day.”
Passage of the stimulus package was important, Crist said, in order to help support education, infrastructure, and health care in his state. “This is not about partisan politics. It’s about rising above that, helping America, and reigniting our economy,” said Crist.
Crist was one of 19 governors, including four Republicans, to release a joint letter publicly urging Congress to to pass the president’s stimulus package — a move that earned him an appreciative phone call from Obama.
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – Speaking to journalists aboard Air Force One Tuesday, President Obama continued to make the case his top aides have pressed this week: that public support for his stimulus proposal is far stronger than many reports have reflected. "I think if you took a look at the Gallup poll yesterday, the American people don't need convincing,” he said.
Fifty-one percent of those included in that Gallup survey conducted Friday and Saturday and released Monday said passing an economic stimulus plan of some kind was critically important. Another 29 percent said it was important, though not critical. In the same poll, those surveyed gave far higher marks to Obama’s handling of the economy than they did to Republican critics of his plan.
(CNN) - A new poll of Connecticut voters could raise alarm bells for Sen. Chris Dodd as he looks ahead to his re-election bid next year.
Fifty-one percent of registered voters in Connecticut questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday say they definitely won't or probably won't vote for Dodd in November 2010, when the five-term Democratic senator is up for re-election. Forty-two percent say they'll definitely or probably vote for Dodd.
Only 41 percent of those surveyed approve of the way Dodd is handling his job, with 48 percent disapproving. That's Dodd's worst approval rating ever in Quinnipiac University polling.
"The numbers are encouraging for Republicans because this is the kind of seat that the GOP would love to bring into play in 2010. Republicans can't afford to just go after the usual suspects. They need to take a shot at some of the more Democratic states if they want to make gains in the Senate,” says Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, a non-partisan analysis of U.S. politics and elections.
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that President Obama enjoyed his first prime time news conference Monday evening — and plans to stick with a campaign promise to hold them regularly in the future.
Obama answered questions from 13 reporters Monday night during the hour-long press conference.
Gibbs also confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Obama at the White House Tuesday morning and formally invited Obama to speak before a joint session of Congress February 24, and the President accepted that invitation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A conservative group is robo-calling voters in Pennsylvania and Maine, urging them to call their Republican senators and demand they stop supporting President Obama’s stimulus package.
In a last-minute effort to force Republican senators Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins into voting against the bill, Delaware-based ‘Let Freedom Ring’ began running 100,000 robocalls Tuesday in Pennsylvania and 50,000 more calls in Maine, according to Colin Hanna, the group’s president.
The Senate vote could come as early as this afternoon, and the measure is expected to pass with the support of the three Republican senators who helped craft the legislation.
“Would you be willing to contact your senator Arlen Specter today and tell him to vote no on the Obama tax and spend plan?” the Pennsylvania call asks, before providing a phone call for Specter’s Washington office.
(CNN) - Erstwhile Minnesota senate hopefuls Norm Coleman and Al Franken can’t vote on the stimulus package currently before Congress, but that’s not stopping them from weighing in from afar.
Not surprisingly, their opinions are split along party lines: Coleman thinks the bill won’t do enough to boost the struggling economy, while Franken calls the legislation flawed but necessary.
“There are aspects of the final package that I'm not happy with,” Franken wrote in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, complaining that the removal of state aid from the legislation will lead to municipal layoffs.
“That said, this is a good and necessary bill, and were it not for the current election contest, I would be voting for it today,” he wrote.
In a dueling op-ed, Coleman agreed with Republicans on the Hill who say the bill lacks bipartisan consensus and won’t succeed without the overwhelming support of the American people.
Coleman wrote that Democrats are “rushing out of the gate and ramming through a massive spending bill.”
“Unfortunately, not enough has been done by all parties to fix the Senate version of the bill, and the product to be voted on in the coming days will not pass with the confidence of the Senate nor of the American people,” he wrote.
(CNN) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is laying out the specifics of the administration's Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) plan.
Watch: Geithner lays out plan
"Instead of catalyzing recovery, the financial system is working against recovery. And at the same time, the recession is putting greater pressure on banks," Geithner said. "This is a dangerous dynamic, and we need to arrest it."
Read Geithner's full prepared remarks after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Obama warned of "catastrophe" if the government doesn't spend more than $800 billion to recharge the failing economy, some lawmakers equated the measure to "theft."
"This is more money that's ever been contemplated in the history of our country," said Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan.
Republican John McCain calls the bailout "generational theft," a transfer of wealth from future generations to today's leaders.
"We are robbing future generations of Americans of their hard-earned dollars because we are laying on them a debt of incredible proportions," he said.
The numbers are staggering. Obama's package is more than $800 billion. President Bush's bailout plan was $700 billion. Add to trillions promised by the government in loans and potential spending to soothe the financial crisis. It all equals a mind-boggling sum, not including the interest on all that money.
President Obama appeared before a national audience Monday night to make the case for the roughly $838 billion economic stimulus plan.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration is set to announce a $1 trillion program aimed at revitalizing lending to consumers and businesses.
The Federal Reserve program expands on a $200 billion initiative unveiled in November to lend money to investors to purchase securities backed by debt such as credit cards and auto, student and small business loans. The initiative, called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), was to have started this month.
The program now will reportedly also cover securities backed by commercial real estate mortgages, another troubled sector.