If President Obama's two-day bus tour that culminates in Scranton Friday is reminiscent of the campaign trail, Republican political leaders are doing their part to play along.
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, joined by GOP state committee heads from Pennsylvania and New York, held a media call where he blasted Obama for making the trip, accusing the president of being all talk and no action.
Obama "figured out a long time ago that he’s good at being judged at what he says and not what he does," Priebus told reporters.
Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason called the president's visit to Scranton Friday "ludicrous" and said economically distressed towns like Scranton won't be helped by Obama "traveling around like a rock star surrounded by doting supporters."
With all that biting rhetoric it was as if the Republicans thought Obama's second term wasn't sealed by voters nine months ago.
Obama is expected to talk about higher education policy in visits to three colleges in New York and Lackawanna College in Scranton. Using Republican attack lines straight from the 2012 playbook, Priebus blamed Obama for graduates not finding jobs out of college and said young people's hours are being cut due to Obamacare mandates on employers. (The law's employer mandate has been postponed, but some businesses did cut workers' hours to avoid the health insurance requirement).
In his speeches, the president is likely to throw the blame back in the face of congressional Republicans who have blocked nearly all policy ideas from the White House. The GOP leaders on the call did not discuss Congress' role in the economy's slow recovery.
Instead, Priebus' message was simply to attack Obama and his public relations effort.
"He’s always looking for that backdrop," Priebus said of Obama choosing blue collar towns to visit. "I think he’s obsessed with pageantry and staging ... "
Gleason said the president chose Lackawanna County because it's one of the few places in Pennsylvania where he's still viewed favorably. Obama won that county in 2012 by 27 points. He won the entire state by just over 5 points.
UPDATED: It didn't take long for Pennsylvania Democrats to fire back with their own fighting words, taking the opportunity to bash Republicans and Gov. Tom Corbett, who faces a tough re-election battle next year.
"Pennsylvanians are excited to hear from President Obama who is standing up to Republican obstructionism and working hard to continue getting our nation's economy back on track despite the best efforts of Republicans like Tom Corbett whose economic policies have caused Pennsylvania to drop from 7th to 49th in job growth," said Marc Eisenstein, spokesman for the PA Democrats. "Chairman Gleason should be careful talking about approval ratings as long as he is the water carrier for the least popular governor in America."
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