WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama traveled to the midwestern state of Minnesota on Friday, to urge public pressure on Congress to pass legislation to create a new jobs program for returning U.S. military veterans.
Obama has paid a lot of attention to Minnesota, making several visits to the state which was part of a three-day bus tour of the Midwest last year to promote his economic policies.
He enjoys strong support in Minnesota, which he won in 2008. Public opinion polls currently give him a lead there over Mitt Romney, who has clinched enough delegates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
On Friday, Obama toured the Honeywell factory in Golden Valley, Minnesota using it as a backdrop for his latest appeal to Congress to pass legislation he has proposed to help the economy.
Obama proposed creation of a Veterans Jobs Corps to assist military veterans returning after service overseas, saying the nation needs to translate words of appreciation for members of the military, into action.
"I want all of our service members and veterans to know we are forever grateful for your service and your sacrifice. Just like you fought for us, we will keep fighting for you, for more jobs, more security, for the opportunity to keep your family strong, because you will help us keep America on top in the 21st century," Obama said.
Obama announced a plan to create partnerships between the U.S. military and manufacturing industry groups to make it easier for companies to hire returning service members with skills, and a Pentagon task force to help veterans gain needed certifications.
Obama's remarks were part of his campaign to promote his "to do list" for Congress to stimulate job creation.
He also mentioned the latest monthly jobs report which showed that only 69,000 jobs were added to the economy in the month of May, raising the unemployment rate slightly to 8.2 percent.
Twice, Obama mentioned the worrying fiscal picture in Europe, and said U.S. congressional action on his proposals would help insulate the United States from potential new economic shocks.
While Congress passed a few parts of a major jobs bill he proposed last year, Obama said there is no excuse for lawmakers failing to act on other proposals.
"Now is not the time to play politics, now is not the time to sit on your hands. The American people expect their leaders to work hard no matter what year it is. The economy still isn't where it needs to be, there are steps that could make a difference right now, steps that can also serve as a buffer in case the situation in Europe gets any worse," Obama said.
The White House said the latest jobs figures show the economy is still not growing fast enough, but emphasized that the economy has added private sector jobs for 27 straight months.
Republican leaders in Congress called the May figures more proof of President Obama's "failed policies", noting unemployment has remained above 8 percent.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney continued his attacks on Obama economic polices, during an appearance at the former California headquarters of Solyndra, a solar energy company that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee supported by the Obama economic stimulus of 2009.
Romney called Solyndra an example of Obama's thinking "that government-dominated decisions" make America stronger, and repeated allegations that the Obama had a serious conflict of interest in supporting the company.