DES MOINES, Iowa—President Barack Obama, meeting swing-state voters in a leafy backyard, struggled again Wednesday to answer the concerns of supporters once buoyed by the excitement of the presidential campaign, but now demoralized by economic struggle.
Mary Stier—attending the president’s second of three small “town hall” meetings on a four-state swing this week—told the president of her 24-year-old son, who “campaigned fiercely” for Mr. Obama in 2008, graduated from Simpson College a year and a half ago and still is “struggling to find a job.”
“They are losing their hope,” she said in the backyard of Jeff Clubb, a social studies and religion teacher at a Des Moines Catholic school, and Sandy Clubb, the athletic director of Drake University.
The question, and the president’s long answer about the depths of the Great Recession, mirrored the exchange Mr. Obama had last week with Velma Hart, a supporter who told him she was “exhausted” from defending him. Coming the morning after an ebullient political rally in Madison, Wis., it underscored the difficulty Democrats are having mobilizing the voters that propelled them to victory in 2008.
In the Wednesday session, a small businessman pressed the president to extend tax cuts for households and small businesses that earn more than $250,000.
“As the government gets more and more involved in business and more involved in taxes to pay for an awful lot of programs…you’re sort of strangling the engine that does create the jobs,” he said.
One woman questioned whether the Obama health-care plan would send the U.S. health-care system into a British-style system of rationing and delays. A man asked when the president would end costly wars abroad. Criticized over illegal immigrants getting health care, the president said, “It is very important that we have compassion as part of our national character.”