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Obama hits Ohio to sell stimulus plan

DAYS before he takes office, United States President-elect Barack Obama was back to campaigning yesterday -- this time to sell the American people his plan for US$825 billion in new spending and tax cuts to spur the troubled US economy.

The campaign-style event in the economically hard-hit industrial Midwest was the first of a series Obama expected to hold to generate support for his plan to pull the country out of recession.

The economy is the biggest concern for Americans as Obama takes office on Tuesday, becoming first black US president and promising a sharp change in course after eight years of George W. Bush.

Obama will enter the White House with public expectations of his success far higher than for any American president in a generation, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. It found that 65 percent of those surveyed believe he will be an "above average" president or better, including 28 percent who think he will be "outstanding."

The poll found broad optimism that Obama could help turn the US economic crisis around. Seventy-one percent said the economy will likely improve during the first year of his presidency. There is also solid support for Obama's economic recovery plan, with 58 percent believing it would significantly improve the economy.

Obama has spent the past two weeks securing law makers' backing for the plan, which has drawn skepticism from both Republicans and Democrats because of its price tag and tax provisions.

With his visit to Ohio yesterday, he took his pitch to the public, trying to sell the package to constituents.

He toured a company that manufactures parts for wind turbines, a fitting backdrop to promote alternative energy included in the stimulus package, which could top US$1 trillion by the time Congress completes its legislation.

Obama has already scored his first big victory in Congress, winning Senate approval on Thursday to spend the second half of the massive US$700 billion fund to bail out the country's teetering financial system.


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