- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seeming almost giddy to be outside Washington for a couple of days, President Obama on Thursday used a campaign-style town hall meeting in Minneapolis to double down on his push for gun control, more action against climate change, a higher minimum wage and a host of other Democratic wish list items heading onto the fall election.

The two-day trip to the twin cities is designed to help the president get in touch with average Americans and was inspired by a letter Mr. Obama received from a working St. Paul mother, Rebekah Erler.

Ms. Erler and Mr. Obama had lunch Thursday before the town hall meeting, and the president also said he intends to make some unannounced stops at local businesses Thursday and Friday. He also headlined a Democratic party fundraiser Thursday evening.

For a president facing numerous foreign policy crises, domestic scandals and now a possible lawsuit from House Speaker John A. Boehner, Thursday provided a welcome opportunity for Mr. Obama to try to show Americans he hasn’t lost touch with them.

While weaving in a host of policy goals, Mr. Obama stuck to the narrative that, despite his wealth and political success, he understands the needs and struggles of ordinary men and women across the country.

“I want to make this point. I grew up not in tough circumstances, but, you know, I was you guys. Somebody out here is going through what my mom went through. Somebody out here is going through what my grandma went through. Somebody out here is going through what Michelle and I went through when we were first married and our kids were first born,” the president said. “You guys are the reason I ran. You are who I’m thinking about every single day. And just because it’s not reported in the news, I don’t want you to think that I’m not fighting for you.”

But back in Washington, the crises Mr. Obama left behind continued to heat up.

Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said he’ll press on with a lawsuit contending the president has abused his executive powers on a variety of fronts.

At the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Justices ruled in a unanimous opinion that Mr. Obama overstepped his bounds when he worked around the Senate to install nominees at several key positions across the federal government.

Also this week, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that, much like the Internal Revenue Service, it has lost key emails associated with congressional inquiries.

Those troubles come against the backdrop of a weak economic report released Wednesday, showing the economy shrunk by 2.9 percent in the first quarter of this year and blunting the White House’s claims that the U.S. is in full recovery mode.

Those and other problems presented a clear opening for Republicans and other critics of this administration.

“At this rate, @WhiteHouse’s excuse will soon be that Pres Obama lost his jobs plan years ago after a computer crashed,” Mr. Boehner tweeted Thursday, mocking both the poor economic report and the missing emails at both the EPA and the IRS.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama tried to push his regular-guy persona by ordering a cheeseburger with Ms. Erler at Matt’s Bar in south Minneapolis. Patrons asked to take photos with the president, but he brushed them off.

“If I start, I’ll have to do one with everybody,” he said, adding that he had to keep his “lunch date” with Ms. Erler.

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