RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Well, it has been a big week from President Obama. He delivers an important speech on his jobs plan to a joint session of Congress on Thursday. The president will then travel here to Richmond on Friday to begin the pitch for turning things around. Joining us to talk about the president's jobs plans and how Congress may react to it is NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Luke Russert.
RYAN: Luke, thank you so much for joining us.
LUKE: Happy to be here, my first Skype interview ever, so --
RYAN: All right.
LUKE: That makes it big.
RYAN: That's exciting. We appreciate that. You join us from Washington. Our congressman, Eric Cantor, and Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to the president today regarding his forthcoming jobs program. Do you get the sense from this letter that there is some room for the sides to come together?
LUKE: It's certainly possible. I think the letter you saw today from Eric Cantor and John Boehner was really reflective of what a lot of folks felt the House GOP was during the debt limit debate, which was unwilling to make any type of compromise. In this letter, they specifically say, look, we don't want this to be the end-all/be-all, we're willing to have an exchange of ideas, we're not trying to draw a line in the sand quite anywhere, and what's interesting is within this specific letter is this tone of trying to have a bipartisan solution. So specifically within a few areas, A) passing free trade agreements that have universal approval, or rather a lot of approval around Congress, from Columbia, South Korea, Panama, also using a program to try and hire better skilled workers, called Georgia Works - copy that goes on in the state of Georgia, and then also this idea of that states get money for their highway service fund from the federal government use 10% of that to go where a state would like to allocate it instead of having it federally mandated to go to things like historical preservations, state trusts and what not. So those are things they can work together, but as far as concerning about President Obama asking for billions more in stimulus funding to go to specific government projects, the House GOP will not relent on that the at all, so if you're looking for one thing to hear from these jobs speeches on Thursday and going forward, it's all tone, the tones a little better now than it was during the debt limit debate, but still both sides are pretty much entrenched in their ideologies.
RYAN: Now, the president has to have his re-election hopes at least in the back of his mind. He's going to come here to Richmond the day after the speech. How much of this is about selling the jobs plan and how much is about 2012?
LUKE: I won't say something here that will shock you, Ryan. Every single thing the president does from now going forward definitely has ramifications for 2012, without a doubt. But this is a make or break speech for President Obama, specifically because what our new, NBC News "Wall Street Journal" poll numbers show is Americans do not truss him on the economy. They do not think his policies have worked and they think in a lot of cases he's actually made it worse, and that is a narrative that is very, very much a problem for him going into the election in 2012. Now, there were some silver linings. 70% of Americans still like him as a person, but if they don't trust him the economy, that's a really opening for a republican nominee, so that's he will try to do on Thursday. He will say here's my ideas, what I'm capable of, here's what I want to do, and can you trust me one more time on this issue and that's the question that voters have to answer in 2012.
RYAN: Luke Russert, the NBC Capitol Correspondent for NBC News.
LUKE: Go Bills, Ryan!
RYAN: You think they got it? Thank you, Luke.