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President Obama Expected to Focus on Economy in Waukesha Visit

Larry Downing-Pool/Getty Images

President Obama will visit the GE plant in Waukesha on Thursday. This will mark the third time the president has visited Wisconsin, on the heels of delivering his State of the Union address.

The remarks are again expected to focus on the economy. One person not surprised that President Obama has again chosen Wisconsin to follow up on his State of the Union address is Michael Kraft. He’s a political scientist at UW-Green Bay.

“So, why Wisconsin? In some ways because the state is typical of the country in terms of income distribution.”

In 2011, the president visited a manufacturing firm – Orion, in Manitowoc and in 2012, the Master Lock plant in Milwaukee. When he tours the GE gas engine plant in Waukesha on Thursday, Kraft expects the president to reiterate his economic priorities, including a boost in the minimum wage.

“I think he’ll express a concern with working class Americans who can’t seem to get jobs that pay sufficiently to live a comfortable life, he may speak to unemployment conditions, highlight his achievements so far in promoting economic growth across the country,” Kraft says.

GE is located in Waukesha County, a Republican stronghold. Does the Democratic leader have a political strategy? Mordecai Lee expects the President to set aside partisan politics in his remarks. Lee is a professor of Governmental Affairs at UW-Milwaukee.

“In a sense what he’s doing is, he’s coming into the adversaries’ territory and saying hey, I know you guys didn’t vote for me, I know you guys don’t like me, but I think you’re going to like these policy initiatives, and can we set aside partisanship and focus on the substance because I think these are good ideas,” Lee says.

Lee does not expect the President to reference the race between Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke. Neither does Marquette University Political Scientist John McAdams.

“If you come in and tout manufacturing and laud an American manufacturing firm, that’s pretty non controversial. If you put a partisan edge on things, that might tend to undercut the sort of feel-good message,” McAdams says.

Yet, UW-Green Bay’s Michael Kraft says the White House is well aware the governor is up for re-election, and that Wisconsin’s statewide elections are hotly contested.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.