President Barack Obama urged a crowd at Carnegie Mellon University today to stay the course, despite newly released June jobs numbers showing sluggish employment growth across the nation.
"We knew we wouldn't be able to do it overnight, because these problems weren't created overnight," Obama told hundreds of supporters gathered near the university's College of Fine Arts during the sweltering July afternoon.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that employers created 80,000 new jobs during June, leveling the nation's unemployment rate at 8.2 percent. The report has dampened hopes that the economy was on the rebound after showing strong employment growth earlier this year.
Obama didn't directly reference the latest employment figures, but economic recovery was at the heart of his address.
Supporters packed the lawn in front of the fine arts center, where Pittsburgh Steelers veteran Franco Harris and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, rallied crowds before the president's address. Paramedics and campaign workers plucked overheated rally-goers from the crowds in the 90-degree temperatures.
"Many of you are aware that we're in full campaign swing," Obama said. "And many of you know campaigns aren't pretty to watch."
Obama touted a rebound at Detroit-based General Motors and his administration's efforts to keep interest rates on federally subsidized student loads from doubling —countering opponents who say his administration has not done enough to reverse steep job loss in 2008.
He also harkened back to his own middle class roots, telling rally-goers he hopes to strengthen the economy "not by building from the top down, but from the middle class out.
"None of us came from privileged backgrounds," he said, recalling his single-parent upbringing and his wife Michelle's working-class parents. "... But here in America, if we're willing to work hard and if we're able to take responsibility for our life, we can make it if we try."
Obama told supporters that GOP opponent Mitt Romney and "his allies in Congress want to to give $5 trillion in new tax breaks to only the wealthiest Americans, on top of the Bush tax breaks, which already aren't paid for.
"It'll be paid for by slashing education funding and making college education more expensive and eliminating basic funding for the science and research that is done right here at Carnegie Mellon."
Obama said his supporters need to "break the stalemate" in Washington.
"My vision is one that says we've got to invest in our young people so they get the best education in the world," Obama said. "We've got to keep on making college more affordable."
"So now (middle class citizens) don't have to fear that if someone in their family is sick they will lose everything," he said. "I make no apologies (for the law). It was the right thing to do."
He told supporters that his administration "started the process" of economic recovery in 2008.
"It's this idea that we're all in it together," he said. "We rise or fall as one people. That formula that says everybody works together means everybody can do well."
Do you agree with the president's stand on health care, job creation, education funding and other issues? Let us know why or why not in the comments section.