President Barack Obama is continuing his campaign to build support for his plan to boost the struggling U.S. economy and ease unemployment. The president made another visit to the politically important state of Ohio to appeal for new construction projects.
President Obama spoke in the city of Cincinnati, at the foot of an aging, deteriorating bridge carrying a major highway over the Ohio River.
He called on Congress to pass his plan to hire more construction workers to rebuild America’s infrastructure.
“So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads? And let Europe build the best highways? And have Singapore build a nicer airport? At a time when we got millions of unemployed construction workers out there, just ready to get on the job, ready to do the work," asked President Obama.
The bridge was chosen because it links the home states of the president’s main Republican political rivals - House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“Part of the reason I came here is because Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell are the two most powerful Republicans in government," said Obama. "They can either kill this jobs bill, or they can help pass this jobs bill.”
Boehner and McConnell have led the opposition to almost every major initiative the president has proposed. Obama urged them to support his $447-billion jobs legislation.
“There is no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects," he said. "There is no reason to stand in the way of more jobs. Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge.”
Transportation officials in the two states have proposed a replacement for the Cincinnati bridge, but construction would not begin until 2015.
McConnell said earlier the president was simply using the bridge as political theater.
“So I would suggest, Mr. President, that you think about ways to actually help the people of Kentucky and Ohio, instead of how you can use their roads and bridges as a backdrop for making a political point," said McConnell.
McConnell said the 2009 economic stimulus was a waste of nearly $800 billion, and that Mr. Obama’s new jobs plan will be more of the same.
Republican leaders have indicated that they would be willing to pass some provisions of the president’s initiative, but not all of them.
Obama has said he will continue working to have the entire package approved, but will sign whatever parts the Congress does pass.
The president was accompanied on his plane by Kentucky’s other senator, Republican Rand Paul, who is often a fierce critic of the jobs bill and other administration policies.
Senator Paul is also campaigning for infrastructure projects, but has his own plan for paying for them.
Ohio is considered one of the states where next year’s presidential election could be decided. Obama visited the state capital, Columbus, last week.