One day after delivering his State of the Union speech to a new Republican-led U.S. Congress, President Barack Obama headed to the nation's conservative heartland to promote the centerpiece of his address - a plan for bolstering the middle class.
Mr. Obama left Washington Wednesday for a two-day trip to Idaho and Kansas. He was to tell audiences that everyone would stand to gain from an economy that has all but recovered from years in the doldrums. White House officials say the president deliberately chose conservative states for his first stops following his annual address to Congress.
In his speech Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told lawmakers and millions watching on television that it is time to ``turn the page'' from recession and war, and work together to boost middle-class Americans. He called for policies like raising taxes on the rich and offering students a chance to go to community college for free for two years.
After seeing his Democratic Party lose control of the Senate to Republicans in November's midterm elections, Mr. Obama has taken a more active role in policy - from immigration reform to improving relations with Cuba - as he seeks to shape his legacy. And polls show his approval ratings are on the rise.
Mr. Obama's plans have been panned by the Republicans who now control Congress.