MILLERS CREEK, N.C. – His poll numbers slumping along with the U.S. economy, President Obama kicked off a three-day bus trip Monday, slamming Republicans for blocking his jobs package and charging that the GOP would allow Wall Street to do “whatever it wants.”

The bus trip through North Carolina and Virginia — each considered a key swing state in the 2012 presidential election — comes days after Senate Republicans successfully blocked the $447 billion jobs package that Obama contends would spur job creation.

With Air Force One perched beside him on the runway at Asheville Regional Airport, Obama urged an enthusiastic crowd to pressure members of Congress to pass parts of his legislation — including $50 billion to repair aging bridges, roads and airports.

“Some of these folks just aren’t getting the message,” he said of lawmakers in Washington. “I need you to give Congress a piece of your mind.”

Republicans have criticized the taxpayer-financed, campaign-style swing as a campaign effort for Obama, who won both states in 2008 but faces daunting odds in 2012 with unemployment stubbornly high.