At a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, President Barack Obama hammered newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan for “blocking” a farm bill that Obama says would “provide relief and certainty to U.S. farmers and ranchers” during the worst drought in more than 50 years.The drought is a new line of attack from Obama on the campaign trail on a day when both he and Ryan are campaigning in the crucial Midwest battleground state. And it comes just two days after Ryan was introduced as Mitt Romney‘s running mate.
Here are some excerpts from Obama’s speech, per his campaign:
“Right now folks here in Iowa and across the heartland are suffering from one of the worst droughts in 50 years. Farmers and ranchers depend on a good crop season to pay the bills and put a roof over their heads, and I know that things are tough right now.
“The best way to help these states is for leaders in Congress to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty. But right now, too many members of Congress are blocking that bill from becoming law. Now, I’m told Governor Romney’s new running mate might be around Iowa these next few days. And he’s one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities. It’s time to put politics aside and pass it right away.”
During a press gaggle on Air Force One, campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki also hit Ryan for not moving the farm bill forward. She put some of the blame directly on Ryan when asked directly.
From the pool report:
“Paul Ryan happens to be in Congress, as you may have heard,” Psaki said. “And he has not, as far as we can tell, taken steps to move the farm bill forward…. But as a leader in Congress, as someone who’s going to be in Iowa today and as somebody who’s part of a ticket led by Mitt Romney, this is an issue I’m sure they know … is on the minds of people” in Iowa and across the country.
The Romney campaign objected to Obama’s remarks, saying in an emailed statement from campaign spokesman Ryan Williams that Paul Ryan “hails from an agriculture state and supported disaster relief.”
Obama won Iowa in 2008, and he’s trying to keep it in the Democratic column amid pressure from the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Congress is getting hammered for failing to take action on a farm bill before leaving Washington for a five-week recess. At stake is the reauthorization of a five-year, $500 billion bill that has become stuck in election-year politics.
The House passed a drought relief bill early this month that the Senate did not take up, instead waiting for the House to act on its version. The Senate bill proposes $16 billion cuts to some food stamp programs, which Democrats say is too much and Republicans say is not enough.
The Obama administration said Monday that it will purchase up to $170 million worth of goods to aid farmers.
This post has been updated at 1:15 p.m. ET.
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