Obama to talk education in region next Friday
When President Barack Obama arrives next Friday in Northeast Pennsylvania, he is expected to speak about education as part of his effort to reinvigorate his agenda aimed at boosting the middle class.
Democratic political consultant Ed Mitchell is not surprised he chose the region as part of his two-day bus tour.
"Northeastern Pennsylvania is a major hub of higher education," Mitchell said, referring to the more than a dozen universities and colleges across the region. "Many kids will benefit from lower loan costs, extending student grants and expanding colleges. Moreover, good schools lead to good job opportunities. We need both."
The tour amounts to phase two of his plan to promote a middle-class agenda.
Obama basically told everyone how he would spend the next couple of months before Congress returns to Washington during a stop July 24 at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
"I'll lay out my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, and what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America: Job security, with good wages and durable industries," Obama said. "A good education. A home to call your own. Affordable health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you're not rich. Reducing poverty. Reducing inequality. Growing opportunity. That's what we need. ... That's what we need to be focused on."
Obama is expected in the region on Friday, though trip planners have not nailed down the time and location, two sources familiar with the plans said Thursday.
The White House declined to comment on specifics, except to say he will visit Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton, N.Y., and Northeast Pennsylvania.
"More details on the President's travel will be released as they become available," a White House official said in an email.
Obama is sure to talk about jobs, too, as he did in several appearances last month after his Illinois visit, and the region's unemployment rate likely figures into the president's decision to come here, analysts said.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area's unemployment rate has topped all other state metro areas for 39 months in a row.
"This is an area that should be respected," said Thomas J. Baldino, Ph.D., a political science professor at Wilkes University. "It supported him. I'm actually kind of surprised that he didn't come sooner. It's about time he made another visit here."
Mitchell likened the jobs part of the visit to fishing.
"You fish where the fish are. If you want to talk about creating jobs, you go where people need jobs. We're hurting."
Dr. Baldino said the visit might have political overtones because Vice President Joseph Biden and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, both have ties here and both are considering running for president and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright could use a boost as his re-election campaign approaches.