Thousands gather for President Obama's Brent Spence Bridge speech
Address focused on American Jobs Act
Tom McKee, email@example.com
1:32 PM, Sep 22, 2011
4:28 PM, Sep 22, 2011
CINCINNATI - It's an overcast afternoon along the banks of the Ohio River, downtown.
The sun occasionally pokes between the clouds, creating a steamy atmosphere that will become more electric as the hours pass.
There is a faint breeze, but not enough to cool things off.
This was the setting for President Obama when he arrived at Hilltop Basic Resources.
He came to Cincinnati to promote his American Jobs Act -- specifically infrastructure projects that he says will put unemployed or underemployed Americans back to work.
When the president stepped to the podium shortly before 3 p.m., he stood with the Brent Spence Bridge directly behind him.
The aging and functionally obsolete span served as a backdrop for him to urge Congress to pass his plan. A new one is being designed at a cost of $2.4 billion, but only a small fraction of the funding has been allocated for design, engineering and environmental work.
A crowd of several thousand people llistened to the president's comments, hoping to hear words indicating more funding is coming for the bridge replacement.
That's the practical side of the president's visit. However, it's overshadowed by the politics involved in the appearance.
President Obama must win Ohio in 2012 if he's going to be elected to a second term in the White House.
While Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is a Democrat, as is Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Obama spoke in Republican territory.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is from West Chester. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky.
The bridge spans the river from Ohio 1st District Representative Steve Chabot to Kentucky's 4th District Representative Geoff Davis.
All of them are Republicans.
The real question was whether Obama's speech will shake dollars loose to move the project along.
The crowd was diverse and waited patiently on the gravel and sand coated grounds of Hilltop Basic Resources. The company had to shut down its activities on West Water Street until the president concluded his remarks and is back on Air Force One at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.