DURHAM, N.C. — President Obama promoted job creation yesterday in politically important North Carolina, trying to assure Americans he’s focused on their number one concern — and his greatest political weakness — as his potential GOP presidential opponents prepared to target his economic policies in their first major debate.
Speaking at an energy-efficient lighting plant in Durham, Obama called for training more engineers as a means to boost long-term economic growth, as he sought simultaneously to reassure businesses about his administration’s policies and try to instill some optimism in voters despite dismal recent economic reports.
His remarks also served as a counterpoint to gathering political opposition represented by seven Republican 2012 potential presidential hopefuls who met in New Hampshire last night for a debate.
“Today, the single-most serious economic problem we face is getting people back to work,’’ the president said. “We stabilized the economy, we prevented a financial meltdown, and an economy that was shrinking is now growing. . . . But I’m still not satisfied. I will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers security.’’
Obama announced a program to train 10,000 new American engineers every year through a public-private partnership.
Obama is looking for ways to brighten a bleak employment picture, pushing private-sector hiring along with his own political fortunes during a two-day trip to two key states — North Carolina and Florida — and a rendezvous with an important Hispanic constituency today on the island of Puerto Rico.
The trip gives him a chance to offer a counterbalance attacks on his policies during the nationally televised GOP debate. But even before the debate got underway, Republicans were dismissing Obama’s efforts.
“Photo ops with business leaders only reinforce that no one in this administration has ideas to create the private sector jobs our economy desperately needs,’’ said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
By unveiling his jobs council proposals in North Carolina, Obama chose a state with the 10th-highest unemployment rate in the country and one where he won his narrowest victory in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Former Paul campaign aide agrees to serve probation
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A former campaign worker for US Senator Rand Paul has agreed to serve probation and pay medical expenses in an assault on a liberal activist during the 2010 election.
Jackie Alexander, assistant Fayette County attorney, says 53-year-old Tim Profitt agreed to a plea yesterday that acknowledges prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him in the assault but does not admit guilt.
Video showed 23-year-old Lauren Valle being pulled down, her faced pinned to the concrete, and then being stepped on.
Valle, who grew up in Dedham, Mass., was with the group MoveOn.org. It happened on Oct. 25 in Lexington outside the studio where the Republican Paul and Democrat Jack Conway debated.
Profitt will spend a year on unsupervised probation and agreed to pay $600 to cover Valle’s medical bills.
Hackers say they broke into website of Senate
WASHINGTON — A hacking group that prides itself on attacking weakly protected websites for fun says it has breached the website of the Senate.
It’s not clear whether Lulz Security has stolen any sensitive material, but yesterday it published an internal file that suggested it had breached the website. The group has also claimed credit for hacking into the systems of
Giffords shooting leaves a void in Senate race
WASHINGTON — The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in January has left Democrats in Arizona without a candidate for next year’s US Senate race, even though party officials in Washington have declared the state a tremendous opportunity to pick up a seat.
Giffords would be the unquestionable favorite to represent the Democrats if she were able to run. As she undergoes therapy to recover from the January shooting, an alternative candidate has yet to emerge — in part because of the uncertainty surrounding her political future.
“All of our hopes and faith were geared toward her,’’ said Andrei Cherny, chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.
Some Democrats said the lack of an alternative at this stage is a worrisome sign that Democrats won’t field a strong challenger against the GOP nominee.