President Obama is planning a three-day bus tour through the Midwest to talk to the public about his new push to create jobs. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the taxpayer-funded trip is part of Obama's day-to-day presidential efforts to implement his policies. But conservative critics say Obama's re-election campaign should pay, noting that the swing will take Obama through battleground states that could help tilt the 2012 election. Is this criticism just a partisan potshot, or is Obama sticking taxpayers with a campaign bill?

This is unfair. Obama's campaign should pay: This "battleground-state bus excursion sounds suspiciously similar to a campaign event," says Alana Goodman at Commentary. Obama has every right to travel around the country, but the president of the United States doesn't hop from town to town by bus unless he's trying to cozy up to voters. It's unconscionable for him to use a government bus for this trip — Obama should rent his own bus, just as his GOP rivals do.
"What will Obama's taxpayer-funded bus tour look like?"

But connecting with Americans is part of Obama's job: After the "grueling debt-ceiling fight," both Obama and Congress have taken a beating in the polls, says Michael A. Memoli in the Los Angeles Times. The "best possible thing" for all of them right now is to get out of Washington and "re-engage with the American people." Between now and his long-planned mid-August trip, Obama will indeed make some campaign appearances, but the bus tour is about making "his case for his vision to boost the economy and job creation."
"Pivoting from debt fight, Obama plans jobs-focused bus tour"

Regardless, this tour won't be easy for Obama: It's telling that the president is trying to reconnect with the people by cruising the Heartland in a "blacked-out, bomb-proof motor coach," says Chris Stirewalt at Fox News. "The natives of the wild territories into which Obama shall venture forth are looking decidedly unfriendly these days." With the economy floundering, Obama will have to express sympathy while also projecting confidence. "But it's very hard to strike the right balance when you are in charge and things are going the wrong way."
"Obama to 'venture forth' in Heartland"