UPDATE 1-Obama hits the road in hopes of firing up voters

* Targeting young voters

* Trading jibes with Republicans on the economy

* Dogged by low poll ratings, high unemployment
(Updates with event)

By Patricia Zengerle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Sept 28 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President
Barack Obama worked to portray Republicans on Tuesday as
catering to millionaires over the middle class to try to
energize young voters ahead of Nov. 2 congressional elections.

“You’ve got to ask yourselves, ‘What direction do I want
this country to go in?'” Obama said at a campaign-style event
in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Obama is on a four-state tour this week looking to drum up
support from young voters who helped send him to the White
House two years ago and who may be crucial in helping Democrats
hold on to their congressional majorities on Nov. 2.

The states he is visiting — New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa
and Virginia — are all states he won in 2008 and will likely
need again in his expected re-election campaign in 2012.

The message he carried at his first event, in a family’s
backyard in Albuquerque, was that his Republican opponents want
to extend all Bush-era tax cuts that expire this year, even for
incomes above $250,000 a year.

The end result could be damaging to the middle class who
depend on government assistance to go to college and other
programs, he said. Obama wants to extend the tax cuts only for
less wealthy Americans.

Obama used a question from the sobbing son of a military
veteran — who said his father was not getting the care he
needs from a Veterans Administration hospital — to pursue his
attack.

“This is again an example of where come November we’ve got
to start making some choices, because if for example we give
tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires that cost us $700
billion that we don’t have, that money has to come from
somewhere,” he said.

Obama later was to headline a rally at the University of
Wisconsin in Madison, and spend the night in Des Moines, Iowa.

Obama was so popular in 2008 that musicians wrote him into
songs, movie and television stars flocked to endorse him and
tens of thousands of people turned out for his events.
Republicans derided him as “the world’s biggest celebrity.”

That momentum carried Democrats to majorities in both the
U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate two years ago.

But support and enthusiasm for Democrats has waned,
dampened by political squabbling with Republicans and an
economy still too weak to reduce the 9.6 percent jobless rate.

Analysts said Obama was risking his reputation by
campaigning on the road.

“Usually midterms go poorly for first-term presidents and
right now his approval ratings are not good,” said Julian
Zelizer, a public policy expert at Princeton University. “This
means the results could be the same in November, and he would
give fodder for a storyline about how he was ineffective.”

ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW

Obama also appealed to young voters in an interview with
Rolling Stone magazine in which he said it is “inexcusable” for
Democratic voters to stand on the sidelines in the Nov. 2
elections and urged them to shake off their lethargy.

“The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the
Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands
complaining, is just irresponsible,” Obama said.

The rally in Madison, featuring singer Ben Harper, will be
the first of a series that organizers hope will generate
enthusiasm reminiscent of 2008. But that could be difficult
with only five weeks before the elections.

Obama’s approval ratings have dropped to around 45 percent
in recent months from over 60 percent 18 months ago.

Republicans, benefiting from the burgeoning conservative
Tea Party movement, have generated far more enthusiasm this
election season than Democrats.

Last week, Republican congressional leaders unveiled a new
“Pledge to America” campaign plan to create jobs, cut taxes and
shrink government, including rolling back Obama’s signature
healthcare overhaul.
(Writing by Steve Holland; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

UPDATE 1-Obama hits the road in hopes of firing up voters