President may travel through region

President Barack Obama may travel through the Hickory area Monday as part of a three-bus tour of North Carolina and Virginia, according to reports by the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

The plan is for Obama to fly into Asheville and make bus-tour stops in Hickory and North Wilkesboro, according to the Citizen-Times. A White House spokesman said the president's stops have yet to be confirmed.

Obama's schedule for the bus tour will be confirmed later this week, the spokesman indicated.

White House officials have confirmed to the media that Obama will be using this tour to talk about jobs and the economy.

The president is promoting a $447 billion jobs plan that he says will boost working Americans and small businesses. The U.S. Senate killed the president’s jobs package Tuesday, and White House and congressional leaders were already moving on to other ways to cut the nation’s painfully high unemployment rate.

The plan would have combined payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses with $175 billion in spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure, as well as unemployment assistance and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police.

Both parties were sure to wield the vote as a political weapon ahead of next year’s presidential election, with Democrats accusing the Republicans of failing to approve a measure to ease high unemployment and Republicans accusing Obama’s party of trying to raise taxes that would kill jobs.

Troopers from areas of North Carolina expect to combine efforts with city and county officers to assist U.S. Secret Service agents in providing security for the president during his trip through North Carolina, the Journal-Patriot reported. First Sgt. Brian Sharpe, top supervisor for the N.C. Highway Patrol in Troop F, District II – which covers Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties – said he will travel to the troop headquarters in Newton to receive his assignment.

The Highway Patrol's primary focus will be to block off roads and driveways and keep motorists off highways while the presidential motorcade travels through. Secret Service agents met with law enforcement officials Tuesday in Hickory in anticipation of the president's bus tour.

The Washington Post also reported Tuesday that Obama plans to visit Asheville. Obama’s visit there would be his third since 2008. He held a campaign event at Asheville High School that year, then vacationed at Grove Park Inn with first lady Michelle Obama in spring 2010.