In the clearest expression yet of his 2012 re-election strategy, President Obama on Monday said he will send a jobs package to Congress...

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DECORAH, Iowa — In the clearest expression yet of his 2012 re-election strategy, President Obama on Monday said he will send a jobs package to Congress next month, ask lawmakers to pass it and campaign against them if they refuse.

During stops in rural hamlets in Minnesota and Iowa, the president blasted a Republican-led House “that doesn’t seem willing to make the tough choices to move America forward.”

Obama made the declaration in a town-hall style meeting in Iowa as he is facing criticism for not advancing a strategy bold enough to bolster job growth and his re-election prospects.

“I’ll be putting forward a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control the deficit,” Obama said on the first day of his three-day Midwest bus tour. “And my attitude will be, ‘Get it done.’ “

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If Congress fails to pass the legislation, Obama said, “The choice (in 2012) will be very stark, and the choice will be very clear.”

The three-state swing, which included impromptu stops at a school and a coffee shop where Obama loaded up on apple and pumpkin pie, is an effort by him to reclaim the initiative, after a dismal summer in which he was stymied on the debt talks, then rebuked with a downgrade of America’s credit rating.

Obama appeared determined not to accept all of the blame for the struggling economy he inherited — while pushing back at suggestions that he isn’t standing up to congressional Republicans who have vowed to support only cuts in government spending, not revenue increases.

“Government and politics are two different things,” Obama told a crowd earlier in Cannon Falls, Minn., listing public-school teachers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and relief workers as examples of government helping people. “That’s government. So don’t be confused, as frustrated as you are about politics. Don’t buy into this notion that somehow government is what’s holding us back.”

With the likelihood of the economy continuing to sputter into next year, and little chance of Democrats and Republicans teaming up to pass a big-ticket jobs bill, Obama also may be rehearsing some “us versus them” lines for his campaign.

“What is needed is action by Congress,” Obama said. “It’s time for the games to stop. It’s time to put country first.”

Obama’s swing through rural patches of the Upper Midwest comes after a Gallup tracking poll showed the president last week had dropped below a 40 percent approval rating for the first time — and as Republicans appeared energized by the candidacies of Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

On Monday, Gallup’s poll — a rolling average of the last three days’ results — had ticked back up to 41 percent.

On Tuesday, Obama will host a rural economic forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta. On Wednesday, he’ll head to Western Illinois to host town halls in Atkinson and Alpha. Obama is to go on a 10-day family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday.

Bachmann lists

farm on disclosures

WASHINGTON — Despite repeatedly asserting that she has never received income from a family farm that drew federal subsidies in the past, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., again listed the farm as a source of income when she filed her 2010 financial disclosures last week.

Bachmann also reported that the farm had more than doubled in value since 2009.

The Independence, Wis., farm, called Bachmann Farm Family LP, received nearly $260,000 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2008. At the time, the farm was owned by Bachmann’s father-in-law, who died in May 2009.

Bachmann, now a Republican presidential candidate running on a platform of lower taxes and smaller government, has been an outspoken critic of agriculture subsidies.

Since 2006, she has reported receiving $37,504 to $120,000 in income from the farm, including $5,001 to $15,000 that she recently disclosed for the 2010 calendar year.

In a statement Monday, her campaign said all farm income allocated to Bachmann and her immediate family was retained by the farm, so “they did not directly benefit from the farm income or subsidies.” The statement also said that her late father-in-law had applied for the subsidies and that the farm had not received any since he died in 2009.

Virginia governor

to chair group

Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell was named chairman of the Republican Governors Association on Monday, giving him a greater platform to fundraise, network and garner national attention should he choose to run for higher office.

The new role will generate more attention for McDonnell, who has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate. He said he intends to complete his term as governor but would be willing to serve on a 2012 presidential ticket if asked.

Cost of aircraft used

by Cuomo reported

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s use of state aircraft to or from his Westchester home and the flights required by state police to return the plane or helicopter to Albany likely cost more than $1,300 an hour to operate, according to an aviation-industry analysis.

The Cuomo administration says that’s too high but won’t offer its own estimate.

The administration said Cuomo’s use of the aircraft to go to or from home three times in six months was because of pressing business in Albany and at home.

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