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Note to the '08 Candidates: The American Heartland is a Big City

Mayors urge presidential candidates to address urban issues.
In today's presidential campaign, America is all heartland -- tractor pulls, county fairs, town halls and truck stops. Candidates scramble for photo ops in plaid, stump in wheat fields and scarf down corn dogs. Our country, it seems, is all country.

Yet we are an urban nation. More than 80% of Americans live in cities. Urbanites drive 90% of our economy. In pandering to rural voters, presidential candidates ignore the bread and butter issues that most Americans deal with every day -- housing, transportation, infrastructure, crime, education.

Have the presidential candidates lost touch with urban America? Are "urban issues" code for poor people and ethnic minorities, and thus to be avoided at all costs? Should the candidates have an urban agenda? What should it be?

To find out, we asked the people who know our cities best -- America's Mayors. In punchy video interviews, a diverse and influential group of mayors gave their prescription for an agenda that supports American cities, and thus America at large.
Andrea Batista Schlesinger is the Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute.