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Obama's three-day jobs tour: Did he connect with rural America?

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Throughout this trip, which included town hall meetings in Minnesota and Iowa, Obama sought to strengthen his connection with rural communities, particularly in this part of Illinois, which is rich in soybean and corn crops. He delayed his morning appearance Wednesday by attending a nearby dairy cow competition. (“I went to a county fair today and they were showing some cows…. They all looked pretty good to me,” he said.)

Later that afternoon, he showed up unannounced to watch football practice at a high school in nearby Galesburg and deliver a pep talk to the team. While standing amid hay bales at an outdoor produce market in Alpha, Obama talked of promoting county fairs and fresh grown food, especially to urban areas.

“The county fair tradition is so important, not only because it’s an economic attraction for the community, but also because it brings the community together. It’s a focal point for the county, it reminds people what holds America together … [Food] just doesn’t show up in cellophane in a supermarket. Somebody’s growing that,” he said.

The themes resonated with some local farmers, including Tim Holmstrom, who voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008 and who say neither party has a lock on their vote the next time around.

“Too much right, too much left, we need more middle,” says Mr. Holmstrom, who operates a 2,000-acre family soybean farm outside Atkinson. Like Warren Buffet, whom Obama mentioned in both his speeches Wednesday, Holmstrom says he is open to paying higher taxes if it coincides with cuts in programs he finds unnecessary.

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