Video: Obama takes job growth message on road

  1. Closed captioning of: Obama takes job growth message on road

    >>> "nightly news" begins now.

    >>> good evening. it's estimated 4 million americans watch their president on television last night. they watched an unusual speech at an unusual time in this country. they saw a president admit his own faults while opening prodding congress, even the supreme court . he laid out where he wants the country to go and said he's not going to quit in the effort to get there. and he noted the anger. not just what politics has become these days, but what's become of millions of americans in this economy. today he went on the road to follow up on some of last night's promises. white house correspondent savannah guthrie begins our reporting at the white house tonight. good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. the president is following what's become presidential tradition, taking his state of the union message on the road. his trip to tampa today, to promote high-speed rail projects, the first of three trips in the next week. the president looking to reconnect with the people. the president in tampa today.

    >> good to be back in the sunshine state .

    >> reporter: getting out of washington to campaign against washington .

    >> i don't want gridlock on issue after issue after issue when there are so many urgent problems to solve.

    >> the president of the united states .

    >> reporter: continuing where he left off wednesday night.

    >> despite our hardships, our union is strong. we do not give up. we do not quit.

    >> reporter: the president's 70-minute state of the union address laid out jobs as his job wants, pushing a package of small business tax breaks and chiding the republicans for sitting on their hands.

    >> i thought i would get applause on that one.

    >> reporter: the president spebt less time on his signature issue health care reform , but made an impassioned plea to fellow democrats to get it done.

    >> i will not walk away from these americans and neither should the people in this chamber.

    >> reporter: today some democrats criticized the president for not laying out a specific legislative strategy to get health care passed, but house speaker nancy pelosi said it will happen one way or the other.

    >> the fence is too high, we'll pole vault in, that doesn't work, we'll parachute in, but we are going to get health care reform passed.

    >> reporter: down in the polls and battered by a year-long health care effort that has yet to deliver, the president vented against petty politics.

    >> what frustrates the american people is a washington where every day is election day.

    >> reporter: today, republicans were skeptical.

    >> we're going to look for common ground, but we're not going to roll over on our prn s principles. we are not going to vote for things that we believe will hurt our country.

    >> reporter: well, tomorrow the president, the administration, hoping to get good economic news. gdp numbers will be out and they are hoping to hear some good economic growth .

updated 1/28/2010 9:55:12 PM ET 2010-01-29T02:55:12

Trying to bury a year of polarization, President Barack Obama on Thursday escalated his appeal for politicians and voters alike to settle differences without tearing each other apart. His plea: "Let's start thinking of each other as Americans first."

Obama made sure to weave that message throughout his stop in Florida, one otherwise intended to promote his economic agenda by announcing $8 billion in high-speed rail awards.

Coming one day after his State of the Union address, and one day before meeting with House Republican leaders with whom he continues to battle, Obama's emphasis on civility was a nod to political reality. He needs Republicans more than ever to get his agenda passed, and he is getting saddled with more public blame for the partisanship he promised to change.

"Nothing that human beings do will be perfect," Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, said as he capped a town hall at the University of Tampa, where he was received with boisterous support.

"But we shouldn't sort of assume that the other side is either heartless or doesn't care about sick people or is some socialist/communist who's trying to take over the health care system," the president said. "We start getting into these caricatures. They're so damaging."

‘Off the sidelines’
Just how far to go in working with Republicans has been an evolving calculation for the White House. Obama ended up muscling through a giant economic stimulus plan with little help from the opposition party and was poised to do the same on major health care legislation until Democrats lost the super-majority they need — 60 votes — to overcome delays in the Senate.

Obama takes responsibility, but not blame.

He still casts Republicans as a party of "no" and calls that their political strategy.

"I want the Republicans off the sidelines. I want them to work with us to solve problems," Obama said. And then he added: "I don't want an attitude 'If Obama loses, then we win.' I mean, that can't be a platform. ... All of us should be rooting for each other."

Party divisions arise less over goals — the main one for both parties is jobs — then how to achieve them. Those policy discussions are even more difficult in this midterm election year, when leaders weigh what's better: working together or targeting the other for defeat.

Obama's challenge is to pull together enough unity to get results this year on weighty items — economic growth, Wall Street regulation, energy and the embattled health care. A Gallup Poll has found him to be the most politically polarizing president in recent history.

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He has also acknowledged a problem in connecting with people, one that left them with a "remoteness and detachment" as he pursued a policy agenda meant to help the middle class. In turn, Obama has focused his rhetoric lately on making clear he is out fighting for people.

Speaking to House Republicans
Following up on his State of the Union pledge to work with the GOP, Obama will address House Republicans Friday in Baltimore, where lawmakers are holding their annual retreat. He'll also tour a small business in the same city and announce a new job-creation proposal.

The proposal would give companies a $5,000 tax credit for each net new worker they hire in 2010. Businesses that increase wages or hours for their existing workers in 2010 would be reimbursed for the extra Social Security payroll taxes they would pay.

No company could reap more than $500,000 from the combined benefits, one of several features meant to tailor the program more to small businesses than to large corporations. Startup companies could receive half that amount. Existing companies could not close down and then reopen under a new name and receive any benefits, White House officials said Thursday.

The program, which would need congressional approval, would end on Dec. 31, and would carry an estimated cost of $33 billion. Administration officials proposed funding it with money repaid to the government from the 2008-09 bank bailout program.

The Social Security system would not lose any revenue under the plan, administration officials said.

The House rejected a similar proposal last month, although Senate Democrats have warmed to the idea lately. House Republicans, meanwhile, hinted they would have questions about the effectiveness of Obama's plan.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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