After failing to rally bipartisan support for the stimulus package, President Obama is taking to the road to rally the people behind his plan.

The president will visit two areas hard hit by the recession: Elkhart, Indiana, and Fort Myers, Florida. The question is, will Obama’s trip be nothing more than the kind of cheering-crowd photo op which President Bush utilized, or is Obama actually going to address the very real concerns surrounding the proposed spending initiatives? Is this an effort in marketing or leadership?

So far, neither the congressional Democrats nor Republicans have shown much desire to work together on the stimulus issue. Many Democrats have seen the bill as their opportunity to collect the spoils of war, while Republicans seem more intent on beginning the 2010 campaign than they do on helping repair the nation’s economy. President Obama, for his part, has made occasional remarks meant to encourage bipartisanship but he’s also made it clear he’s more concerned with winning this particular battle than he is in delaying matters in order to include more voices.

Right now, the bill is poised to pass the Senate’s procedural vote before reaching final passage. Then, the bill will move on to what’s expected to be a difficult negotiation with the House to iron out the final legislation. Obama’s success in rallying grassroots support for the bill could be instrumental in determining what version of the bill finally hits his desk.

Obama’s trip is his last chance to show leadership on this issue. We’ll see if he has the clout to directly influence the bill’s outcome or whether he’ll basically be doing the bidding of his party.

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