As he promised, President Obama on Friday took his new $447 billion jobs plan on the road, imploring Virginia voters to do whatever it takes -- even using carrier pigeons, if they have to -- to tell their congressional representatives to pass the bill.
The president, both in his Thursday night address before a joint session of Congress and during his Friday stop in Virginia, has been forceful in his rhetoric: "Pass this jobs bill now!" he has said repeatedly.
And in a new role for the GOP this year, Republican leaders appear to be the ones ready to compromise: "Good people can disagree; let's find areas of agreement to produce results, so the middle class can get back to work in this country," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted Friday morning. The majority leader tweeted a handful of similar messages throughout the morning.
It's unlikely Congress will pass Mr. Obama's economic package in its entirety. But the substance of the president's plan and his strategy for selling it to Congress suggest Mr. Obama is trying to gain leverage over Republicans to get as much done as possible. Republicans say they're ready to work with the president to an extent, but it's unclear how far that good will will take them.
Thursday night, following Mr. Obama's speech, Cantor told CBS News that he was ready to work with Mr. Obama on issues like tax relief for small businesses. But he added that Republicans "" the president took.
He followed that up with an op-ed in the Ricmond Times-Dispatch in which he wrote, "Virginians, like most Americans, expect us to act responsibly and work together so that the economy can grow and people can get back to work. I stand ready to work with the president to get the economy back on track." Again, Cantor praised some of the president's proposals, including infrastructure investments and unemployment programs, but said the GOP has its own ideas as well.
Meanwhile, the White House doesn't appear to be backing down from its "all-or-nothing" strategy. On MSNBC Friday morning, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer rejected the idea that Mr. Obama's "American Jobs Act" could be piecemealed.
"The president said it 16 times, I'll say it a 17th time today. He wants them to pass the American Jobs Act. That's the piece of legislation he's sending up," Pfeiffer said. "It's a simple thing. Puts the Americans back to work and puts more money into the pockets of working families. Our belief is that everything in this bill is reasonable. Everything in the bill has bipartisan support. Everything will have an effect right now."
On NPR, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner added, "The package as a whole is designed to make the economy stronger now and get more Americans back to work.
As liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent notes, "At a minimum, the White House does seem to be trying to strengthen its own leverage at the outset in a way we haven't seen before. And in the end, leverage is the only thing that can force Congress to act."
The same is true of the size of the "American Jobs Act." At $447 billion, the package is larger than just about anyone expected, to the delight of the president's liberal base. Republicansat the prospect of finding $447 billion in budget savings to offset the cost. But by throwing just about every economic stimulus idea in Washington into his bill, Mr. Obama made it hard for Republicans to reject the bill outright.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, reminded Cantor on the House floor Friday morning that there were at least some moments during Mr. Obama's speech during which both parties applauded.
"The president mentioned about 'making it in America,'" Hoyer said, noting it was "one of the few times we all stood very enthusiastically... Having 'made in America' goods was something we all support."
With that in mind, Hoyer told Cantor that he hoped the Republican leaders would take up work on the president's plan right away. Cantor replied that he couldn't say when the House would take up the measure, since the White House hasn't even technically sent the bill to Congress yet.
But the longer Republicans ignore the bill, the harder Democrats will use the GOP's inaction to campaign against them. Mr. Obama took his message to Cantor's district this morning, and next week, he'll be in House Speaker John Boehner's home state of Ohio.
"Last night, President Obama challenged us to take bold steps to put Americans back to work. To come together to get our economy moving again. To think big," the DSCC said in an email solicitation to its supporters. " Unfortunately, Republicans have proven how they think. Small. Petty... President Obama is one man. He can't do this alone. Republicans are energized, engaged and eager to take the Senate - to grab each and every rein of power in Washington. We can't let them."
Watch CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell recap of President Obama's jobs address with the National Journal's Major Garrett, the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Hotline's Reid Wilson: