(CNN) – It’s not often that a freshman member of Congress gets a ride on Air Force One and a personal shout-out from the President himself in front of the hometown crowd. Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock got both last week but still voted against President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill.
After joining Obama on the presidential plane to Peoria, which is part of Schock’s congressional district, the President made a specific appeal to Schock during an event at a Caterpillar plant.
“Aaron’s still trying to make up his mind about our recovery package,” the President said last Thursday. “He’s a very talented young man. I’ve got great confidence in him to do the right thing for the people of Peoria,” Obama added.
But the presidential spotlight was not enough to win over Schock.
“Ultimately, I listened to my constituents and I looked at what I knew about the bill and determined it was not in the best interests of my constituents,” the freshman Republican said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “It was not really a stimulus bill with the majority of the money going towards stimulating the economy.”
Schock says the new president was kind notwithstanding their differences over how best to help the nation’s struggling economy.
Being on Air Force One “was an amazing experience,” Schock told Chief National Correspondent John King.
“I like the President. He’s a very good guy . . . I want him to be successful. I want to vote for a stimulus bill. I appreciated his hospitality in bringing me along on the trip. . . . But at the end of the day my responsibility is to the people who gave me this job – my constituents,” the 27-year-old said.
President Obama “could not have been more cordial” onboard Air Force One, Schock said. “He waited for the hard sell, if you will, in front of the national media. That’s when I really got both of my arms twisted there in front of hundreds of my constituents and the national media when he had me stand up and basically ask my constituents to put the pressure on me.”
Like some of his Republican colleagues in the Senate, Schock also took issue with the legislative process that resulted in the massive stimulus bill.
“Bipartisanship is not one party writes the bill and we all vote for it. Bipartisanship means you truly meld together both sides ideas and come up with a compromise bill,” Schock told King. “That didn’t happen in this case and ultimately, that’s why I voted against it.”
Schock is currently the youngest member of the 111th Congress and was recently voted the “Hottest Freshman” in Congress in a poll of Huffington Post readers.