Obama challenges Boehner, McConnell on home turf

September 23, 2011 • National News

President Barack Obama is greeted on the tarmac upon his arrival at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Ky., Thursday, Sept., 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Needling his top Republican adversaries on their own turf, President Barack Obama stood in the shadow of an outdated and heavily used Ohio River bridge Thursday and called his rivals out by name to demand action on his $447 billion jobs bill.

Making a point to choose a bridge linking House Speaker John Boehner’s home state of Ohio with Kentucky, the home of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Obama struck a cheeky tone that underscored the politics of the moment.

“Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge,” he declared. “Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill.”

The president’s incursion into northern Kentucky and southern Ohio is one of his most direct and defiant challenges to leaders of the opposition party. And it illustrated a desire by the president’s advisers to distinguish him from Republicans and to get them to share some of the blame for the struggling economy.

Rejected as pure politics by Boehner and McConnell, the president’s in-your-face approach showed no sign of changing any minds in Congress.

It also was a shift from the president’s outreach to Boehner this summer, when the two men tried to work out a deal that would extend the nation’s borrowing authority and cut long-term deficits as well.

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