Nightly News   |  October 06, 2011

Obama talks unemployment, Wall Street protests

President Obama held a press conference Thursday to sell his jobs plan, but he spent much of his time explaining why he can’t get it passed through Congress. NBC’s Chuck Todd has more.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we turn to other news, chiefly the US economy . President Obama held a news conference this morning at the White House . A lot of the questioning focused on unemployment and the very public show of anger building around the country. Our chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd , was there.

Group of Protesters: Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs?

CHUCK TODD reporting: With growing disillusionment toward Wall Street and Washington as the backdrop, President Obama tried to show some empathy.

President BARACK OBAMA: I think people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.

TODD: But he also defended the decisions he made to save the financial industry .

Pres. OBAMA: I used up a lot of political capital, and I've got the dings and bruises to prove it, in order to make sure that we prevented a financial meltdown and that banks stayed afloat.

TODD: And he responded to a question about why no one on Wall Street has gone to jail.

Pres. OBAMA: A lot of that stuff wasn't necessarily illegal. It was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless.

TODD: The goal for this press conference was to sell his $450 billion jobs plan, but the president spent much of his time explaining why he can't get it passed.

Pres. OBAMA: So there may be some skepticism that I personally can persuade Republicans to take actions in the interest of the American people . But that's exactly why I need the American people to try to put some pressure on them.

TODD: And he blamed Congress for the country's skepticism about Washington .

Pres. OBAMA: Until they see Congress actually putting country ahead of party politics and partisanship, they're going to be skeptical, and doesn't matter how many times I preach to them.

TODD: Minutes before the president entered the East Room , House Speaker John Boehner asked his own question.

Representative JOHN BOEHNER: Well, Mr. President, why have you given up on the country and decided to campaign full time instead of doing what the American people sent us all here to do?

TODD: While he didn't address the question directly, the president denied he was trying to pull a Harry Truman .

Pres. OBAMA: If Congress does something, then I can't run against a do-nothing Congress . If Congress does nothing, then it's not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town.

TODD: The White House is pulling out all the stops to try to fix their economic brand these days, even using the Clinton card tomorrow. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton guest-hosts the president's jobs council meeting, Brian .

WILLIAMS: All right, Chuck Todd at the White House tonight. Chuck ,