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Obama Vows To Fight For Jobs, Health Reform

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Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama says he will not stop fighting to create jobs, reform health care or clean up the financial industry.  The president took his populist appeal to the recession-battered central state of Ohio Friday. 

President Obama's energetic speech at a community college near Cleveland took on the appearance of a campaign rally.

The president told the crowd at a public forum his recent political setbacks will not stop him from moving forward on his agenda. I will not stop fighting for you.  I will take my lumps, but I will not stop fighting to bring back jobs here.  I will not stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded," he said.

In an area where manufacturing jobs have disappeared and the unemployment rate has risen above the national average, Mr. Obama called on Congress to pass a new job-creation bill.

The president acknowledged Tuesday's election of a Republican senator in Massachusetts, which gives the opposition party enough votes to block health care reform and other Democratic priorities.

But he said he is not giving up on fixing health care, and that he did not tackle the issue to boost his political standing. "I am trying to solve the problems that folks here in Ohio and across this country face every day.  And I am not going to walk away just because it is hard.  We are going to keep on working to get this done, with Democrats, I hope with Republicans, anybody who is willing to step up," he said.

Mr. Obama defended his efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy, which included unpopular moves to bail out banks and rescue automakers.

He also touted his more popular effort to reform the nation's financial industry and hold bank executives more accountable. "I just want to have some rules in place so that when these guys make dumb decisions, you do not end up having to foot the bill. That is pretty straightforward.  I do not mind having that fight," he said.

Mr. Obama smiled and joked throughout the forum, and earlier, as he toured the community college's wind turbine lab.

The president also made an unscheduled stop at a local restaurant, where he spoke briefly with a 98-year-old man and bought another man a bowl of chili on his birthday. 

The politically-mixed state of Ohio is often crucial to presidential campaigns.  And Mr. Obama's approval ratings have slipped as the nation's unemployment rate hovers around ten percent.

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