US President Barack Obama has begun a campaign-style speaking tour to make a case to voters for action to boost the US economy and create jobs.Mr Obama's three-day Midwest swing comes as his poll ratings continue to slip amid poor economic news.
Meanwhile, the Republican 2012 election field is beginning to take shape.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty pulled out after rival Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll, while Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the race.
They are vying to become the chief rival to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination.
Mr Romney leads in polling and in fundraising but is seen as vulnerable to a challenge.
'Partisanship and gridlock' Mr Obama left for Minnesota on Monday morning for a three-day trip to include stops in Iowa and Illinois.
He will make the case to voters that his administration has stabilised the economy and laid the foundation for job growth.
There is huge uncertainty in this country. Wise candidates will focus on that, as well as the more concrete issue of jobs. ”
At a meeting with voters in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, Mr Obama called on Washington politicians to put the country's needs ahead of their own political aims."You've got to send a message to Washington that it's time for the games to stop, it's time to put country first," Mr Obama told voters.
"If you can do the right thing, then folks in Washington have to do the right thing. And if we do that, there is not a problem that we face that we cannot solve."
In laying out what may be a theme of his upcoming campaign, Mr Obama said that the leader of Congressional Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner, had rejected a White House spending cuts proposal in recent budget talks because Republicans refuse to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to close the US budget deficit.
He said that in Congress, compromise had become "a dirty word".
Republican attacks Some analysts are marking Mr Obama's tour as a new phase in his re-election effort, noting it is imperative that he begin now to regain control of the political message from the Republican party.
His is seen as needing to convince voters that his policies - including a $787bn (£482bn) economic stimulus package and a broad healthcare reform - have helped the economy, not hindered it.
While Mr Obama will not have to face voters until the November 2012 general election, his would-be Republican opponents have taken every opportunity to saddle him with lagging economic recovery.
Mr Obama is "more interested in campaigning in swing states than working to solve the economic crisis that is crushing the middle class," Mr Romney said in a statement on Monday morning.
The weekend saw the Republican field take shape as a three-person race between Mr Romney, Mr Perry and Ms Bachmann, analysts say.
Ms Bachmann's resounding victory on Saturday in a non-binding "straw poll" in Iowa boosted Ms Bachmann profile, while Mr Pawlenty dropped out of the race after a distant third showing. Mr Romney did not compete.
Mr Perry also entered the race on Saturday, and he immediately jumped to second place in polls of Republican voters, behind Mr Romney.
Mr Perry and Ms Bachmann are vying for the same segments of aggressive anti-tax Tea Party Republicans and social conservative voters, while Mr Romney is presenting himself as an accomplished businessman who can fix the economy and appeal to the independent voters necessary to defeat Mr Obama.
With the first real voting not scheduled to take place until February, analysts say plenty of time remains for more upheaval in the Republican race - including a late entrance from former Alaska governor, 2008 vice-presidential nominee and conservative Tea Party hero Sarah Palin.