Expect more of President Obama's heightened criticism against Congress on Tuesday as he seeks to hold a district in Iowa that he won in 2008.
When the bus pulls into Peosta, Iowa, 12 miles west of Dubuque, the president will find himself in the eastern flank of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, once represented by Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, and which went for Obama over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at a 58-41 clip in 2008. The same year, 65 percent of the vote went to Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, over his Republican challenger.
A hint that the district might have grown less amenable to Obama came in the 2010 election numbers, when Braley held off attorney Ben Lange by two points.
Still, the mayor of Peosta (pop. 1,377) said the economic winds that have battered other parts of the country have not gusted as hard in the city that touts itself as “Crossroads to the Future.”
Like all five towns Obama is visiting on the trip, Peosta has fared better than average during the recession. The unemployment rate for the county, in the 6-point range, is far lower than that of the entire country.
“Our economy here has been really good throughout this whole crisis we’ve had,” said Mayor Dick Avenarius. “We’ve been doing really good. Building has been great. We’ve got seven or eight houses going up in a subdivision.”
Northeast Iowa Community College, where Obama will speak, is in town, and the industrial park employs about 1,500 people, making small motors (“as small as you can get them,” Avenarius says), plastic bottles (“classy”), the rubber tracks for John Deere crawlers, hydraulic hoses, pressure washers, and replica trucks.
When school is in session and folks are at work in the industrial park, said Avenarius, “we probably got over 2,000 people here.”
And Avenarius suggested Obama will face little of the bitterness he’s confronted in Washington. “With a small community like this, to have the president of the United States choose this place, it’s an honor,” he said. Do Peostans approve of the job the president is doing? “From what I understand, yes, they do,” said the mayor, who counts himself “a signed Democrat” who often votes Republican.