President Obama in MN 27 Jun 14

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — President Barack Obama says policies to help the middle class are fully achievable if the country can get Washington to work for average citizens.

Obama says the central challenge that drives him is how to ensure hard-working, responsible people can get ahead. He’s promoting the need for better childcare policies, paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, and equal pay for men and women.

Obama says rather than serve special interests, politicians should engage in a common-sense conversation about the problems people face and the solutions.

Obama was answering questions Thursday at a Minnesota town hall meeting. He spent part of the day with a working mother to highlight Americans still struggling through the economic recovery.

The Minnesota woman whose letter to President Barack Obama led to one-on-one time with him says she hopes the message about middle-class struggles isn’t lost on Washington decision-makers.

Rebekah Erler, of St. Anthony, shared lunch Thursday with Obama during his two-day trip to Minnesota and had a chance to tell him about economic difficulties facing average Americans. Erler told reporters that she “got a chance to start a conversation” about problems families encounter daily.

Obama’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage and reshape student loan programs have stalled in Congress, and he is aiming to refocus public attention on those issues.

Erler says the experience was “an incredible opportunity to share what’s important to me and my friends and my family and what we go through every day.”

President Obama is in Minnesota again today (Friday).