ABC News’ Jake Tapper, Sunlen Miller and Karen Travers report:
Next week President Obama will hit the road –- campaign style –- to sell the economic stimulus package.
The president will hold a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana on Monday and in Fort Myers, Florida on Tuesday.
During today’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted that each city is a prime example of the impact of the dire economy, citing numbers that last year in Elkhart alone, unemployment rates went from 4.7 percent to 15.3 percent, and in Fort Myers from 6 percent last year to 10 percent this year.
"I think the president looks forward to getting out of town for a few hours and talk directly with people that are affected," Gibbs said, “Given today’s numbers its important to go directly to where people are hurting and discuss directly with them the price of inaction and what he thinks we can do to put people back to work and invest long-term.”
While Obama did win Indiana and Florida, the areas he’s traveling to next week went overwhelmingly for Sen. John McCain –- he did not win a single county in either district on election day.
Both districts are represented by Republicans — Mark Souder in Indiana and Connie Mack in Ft Myers.
Are President Obama’s pointed trips a possible twofer — to target these members who were on board with the Republican stimulus bill in addition to speaking to Americans?
Gibbs shot down this notion. “This is not designed specifically to cajole any member of Congress," he said. "It’s an effort by the president to talk to the American about what’s at stake.”
Next weeks’ trips will mark the first time Obama will speak directly to the American people in a town hall setting since becoming president.
“Sounds like the good ol’ days, doesn’t it,” Gibbs quipped of the president who is acting an awful lot like a campaigner these days.
– Jake Tapper, Karen Travers, and Sunlen Miller