Obama to ‘Shine a Spotlight’ on Economy in Sunshine State

By Caitlin Taylor

Feb 10, 2009 12:15pm

ABC News’ Yunji de Nies and Karen Travers report:

For the third time in a week, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the press cabin on Air Force Once and spoke briefly to reporters on the flight to Ft. Myers, Fla.

Obama is on the road again for a town hall meeting to push for the stimulus package.

Asked who the target audience is for these town meetings –- Congress vs. the American people –- Obama pointed to a Gallup poll that shows that a majority of Americans support the job he is doing on the stimulus and say it’s important to get it passed.

“I think if you took a look at the Gallup poll yesterday, the American people don’t need convincing, we just want to shine a spotlight on how severe this downturn is all across the country and to make sure that members of congress understand the sense of urgency that I feel,” he said.

Obama traveled to Florida with several Democratic members of the Florida congressional delegation. He joked that no Republicans would come with him.

President Obama showed ABC News’ de Nies some Aloha State love on the plane today. When she told him she too was from Hawaii, he gave her the “shaka” sign, the pinky and thumb salute that means aloha.

Obama will deliver remarks and take questions before an audience of about 1,500 at the Harborside Event Center. Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist will introduce the president. Crist was one of four Republican governors to sign on to a letter to Obama pushing for quick action on the stimulus to give states relief.

On board Air Force One, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president has asked Bruce Riedel to chair an interagency policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan to be completed before the NATO summit in April. Riedel is a former CIA officer and is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Richard Holbrooke and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy will serve as co-chairs.

Gibbs also announced that at the White House this morning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally invited the president to speak to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 24, an invitation he accepted.

– Yunji de Nies and Karen Travers

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