For Obama, jobs campaign is most personal yet

WASHINGTON -- President Obama's 5-day-old campaign for his $447 billion jobs package appears to be the most focused and personal of his presidency.

When he appeared in the Rose Garden on Monday with dozens of teachers, police, firefighters, construction workers, small-business owners and veterans who could be helped by the measure, his most important prop was in his hand — a copy of the 155-page legislation. Seldom does the White House write its own bills.

When he appears in Columbus, Ohio, today to pitch the plan, it will mark the second time in four days he brings the campaign to a swing state that will help decide his political fate next year. The Democratic National Committee will complement the trip with television ads promoting the plan.

And when he appears in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday for another jobs event, it will mark five speeches on the topic in seven days, starting with his call for action before a joint session of Congress last Thursday.

The White House, meanwhile, is working to mobilize supporters with e-mail blasts and convince opponents with orchestrated endorsements from governors, mayors, business leaders and economists.

Anyone who missed Thursday's speech can click on the White House website and watch an "enhanced version" featuring charts and graphs to back up the president's points. The site also features state-by-state analyses of the measure's potential impact.

The effort is unprecedented, at least for this soon after the initial rollout. "There's a sense of urgency about it," said White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest.

The White House did not write its own economic stimulus or health care legislation in 2009, preferring to let Democrats in Congress do it for them. The Treasury Department delivered the financial regulation bill in sections. In all of those cases, Obama didn't take to the road, nor did the White House to social media sites, quite so quickly.

"I've been asked this question: 'Isn't this a campaign?' You're absolutely right, it is a campaign," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday. "The president is campaigning for growth and jobs."

The measure would cut taxes for individuals and small businesses in 2012, help state and local governments save the jobs of teachers and first responders, jump-start construction on roads and schools, and extend jobless benefits.

White House budget director Jacob Lew said Monday it would be paid for by eliminating tax breaks for upper-income Americans, oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers and others. Obama made the same pitch during deficit-reduction talks with Republicans this summer, to no avail.

While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Monday that Obama was unrealistic by asking Congress to simply pass his bill, it is the way to reach Americans, says Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. "Putting this at the center, making such a push on it, making it so visible … addresses public concerns, public discontent," Kohut said.