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Obama Defends Economic Progress Ahead of Congressional Elections

  • Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama is concluding a three-day, five-state trip around the country, defending his administration's progress in repairing the economy. Support for the president's economic plan is fading as mid-term elections for Congress get closer.

President Obama took his campaign-style trip to the back yard of a family in the Midwestern U.S. city of Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday.

He talked with Joe and Rhonda Weithman, and several dozen of their neighbors about the main issue on the minds of many Americans this election year, the U.S. economy.

"Whereas we were losing jobs in the private sector when I was first sworn in, we are now gaining jobs and we have gained jobs seven consecutive months in the private sector," said President Obama. "The economy was shrinking about six percent, and the economy is now growing. So we have made progress. But, let's face it, the progress has not been fast enough."

An Associated Press public opinion poll shows that only 41 percent of those surveyed believe Mr. Obama has done a good job handling the economy.

The nation's unemployment rate remains stalled at 9.5 percent. Ohio, which has lost many of its manufacturing jobs, has a jobless rate of more than 10 percent.

At Wednesday's informal meeting, the president said it will take time to regain the eight million jobs that have been lost during the past two years. But he said confidence will grow as the economy rebounds.

"So what we are trying to do is create a virtuous cycle, where people start feeling better and better about the economy. And a lot of it is sort of like recovering from an illness - you get a little bit stronger each day, and you take a few more steps each day. And that is where our economy is at right now," President Obama added.

On this trip, the president has been campaigning and raising money for Democratic Party candidates in Wisconsin, California, Washington state and Florida, as well as Ohio.

The entire House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate and many state governorships will be up for election in November.

After the back yard gathering, the president held a fund-raising event for Ohio's governor, where he criticized Republicans for their opposition to his economic initiatives.

"'No' on clean energy jobs, right here in Ohio and across the country. 'No' on making college more affordable. 'No' on Wall Street reform. Do you remember our slogan during the [2008 presidential] campaign? 'Yes, We Can.' This year, their slogan is 'No, We Can't,'" said President Obama

Republicans say Mr. Obama's policies involve too much government spending and will hurt the economy rather than helping it.

After his campaign swing, the president is scheduled to return to Washington briefly before he and his family start a 10-day vacation on the resort island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

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