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Obama Pitches Jobs Plan In Ohio

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Madeleine Brand.

The words are repeated multiple times today by President Obama: I won't stop fighting. He was on a trip to Ohio to talk about jobs and the economy. His trip capped off a nightmare week for the White House and for Democrats. The loss of one Senate seat from Massachusetts has thrown the president's top priorities into disarray. In a moment, we'll dissect the damage with our regular political commentators.

First, NPR's Don Gonyea reports on the president's visit to the town of Elyria.

DON GONYEA: Northeast Ohio has seen steel and other manufacturing jobs disappear and the president came here to answer those who say he's not done enough for working people in his first year in office.

President BARACK OBAMA: If you ask the average person, what was the Recovery Act, the stimulus package, they'd say, the bank bailout. So let me just be clear here: The Recovery Act was cutting taxes for 95 percent of working families 15 different tax cuts for working families, seven different tax cuts for small businesses so they can start up and grow and hire.

GONYEA: The president said he's not given up on overhauling health care. He cited his proposals this week to put tough new restrictions on banking practices, and noted that he's accused of interfering with banks.

Pres. OBAMA: No, I just want to have some rules in place so that when these guys make dumb decisions, you don't end up having to foot the bill.

GONYEA: The president took questions from the audience. One came from a woman who owns a truck driving school that's hurting.

Unidentified Woman: In the past few months, we've had a number of people on a daily basis coming into our school that's unemployed, but there are no training funds for truck driver training. And I want to know why that has changed.

GONYEA: The president said he couldn't specifically address her situation, though he said the stimulus package does contain retraining money. Then he used the moment to take on another common criticism of his administration.

Pres. OBAMA: You know, Obama is just trying to perpetrate big government. What big government exactly have we been trying to perpetrate here? We're trying to fund those guys who want to go to truck driving school. We want to make sure that they've got some money to get trained for a job in the private sector.

GONYEA: The president always tells his audiences he enjoys getting out of Washington. This week, he seemed genuinely thrilled to get back to the scenes and themes of his campaign days.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.