BLACKSBURG – The U.S. economy has “obviously turned the corner” and is improving, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this morning in Blacksburg as he kicked off a media tour to praise the Obama administration’s assustance to rural areas.
Staffers emphasized that Vilsack was campaigning as a former governor of Iowa rather than in his current federal role.
He and Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam highlighted a number of areas where they said the Obama administration had helped rural localities, including funding expansion of broadband and supporting conservation and recreation efforts.
Standing in front of the still-in-construction Phase II of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Rordam said $2 million in federal money had helped pay for an expansion he termed “such a vital part of the Blacksburg economy.”
Rordam said he also appreciated Obama’s support for conservation easements to protect air and water quality. He noted that he and his wife put an easement on rural property they own ro preserve it from development.
“We appreciate everything the Obama administration has done … to make rural America go,” Rordam said.
In response to the campaign stop this morning, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, held a conference call this afternoon on behalf of the Republican National Committee to discuss how Obama’s policies have failed Virginia.
“The president has forgotten about small-town America and sending in surrogates is not going to help,” Goodlatte said.
He scoffed at assertions that the economy is strengthening and said that Republican Mitt Romney, not Barack Obama, was the best leader to guide the way to prosperity.
Goodlatte predicted that Romney will campaign across Western Virginia as the election gets closer, saying “Mitt Romney will never forget Americans living in small towns.”
The Obama campaign’s rural Virginia swing continues Wednesday and Thursday with former Congressman Tom Perriello scheduled to stop in Martinsvile, Rustburg, Chatham, Raphine and Lovingston. On Friday, the campaign has scheduled a policy roundtable in Blacksburg, and on Saturday, Anne Holton, wife of Senate candidate and former Gov. Tim Kaine, are scheduled to join the opening of an Obama campaign headquarters in Blacksburg at 712 N. Main Street.