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Political Notebook

Obama retools, focuses on job creation

At the Riddell sports equipment plant in recession-weary Elyria, Ohio, President Obama yesterday received a football helmet adorned with the presidential seal and the number 44. At the Riddell sports equipment plant in recession-weary Elyria, Ohio, President Obama yesterday received a football helmet adorned with the presidential seal and the number 44. (Michael Matis/Prnewsfoto/Riddell)
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Associated Press / January 23, 2010

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ELYRIA, Ohio - President Obama tried to revive his battered agenda and rally despondent Democrats yesterday with a renewed emphasis on jobs. His visit to this struggling Rust Belt city capped a tough first-anniversary week for a presidency that suffered jolts at the hands of Massachusetts voters and the Supreme Court.

“I’m not going to win every round,’’ Obama told a town hall audience. But striking a populist tone on a campaign-style swing, Obama pledged, “I can promise you there will be more fights in the days ahead.’’

He used the word “fight’’ or some variation more than a dozen times as he tried out a revamped message focused mainly on the economy, part of a stepped-up effort to persuade Americans that he’s doing all he can to create jobs.

“This isn’t about me. This is about you,’’ he said.

Instead of the anniversary celebration Obama might have expected, the week was one of the worst in recent times for the White House, with much hand-wringing and blame-casting among dazed Democrats in the halls of Congress.

Buoyed congressional Republicans have their sights on winning back majority control they lost in 2006, seeing potential gains in Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Arkansas.

Obama last came to this northeastern Ohio county in 2008 for a campaign speech on the economy at a drywall factory that closed two months later. En route yesterday to a wind turbine plant, his motorcade whizzed by a snowy landscape of scores of buildings either for lease or sale.

“The worst of this economic storm has passed,’’ Obama told his audience at the Lorain County Community College. “But families like yours and communities like Elyria are still reeling from the devastation left in its wake. Folks have seen jobs you thought would last forever disappear.’’

He said a new stimulus spending bill emerging in Congress that the White House is calling a “jobs’’ bill must include tax breaks for small-business hiring and for people trying to make their homes more energy-efficient, proposals he wasn’t able to get into a bill the House passed last month

Obama defended as necessary his administration’s widely unpopular moves to bail out financial and auto companies. He also stepped up his recent attack on bankers and bonuses, defending his proposal to tax big banks to recover bailout costs and to limit their size and activities.

Task force advises bringing 80 from Guantanamo to US
WASHINGTON - At least 80 Guantanamo detainees would be brought to the United States to face trial, military commissions, or continued imprisonment without charge under recommendations from a presidential task force, two government officials said yesterday.

The officials said that a task force has recommended 35 Guantanamo Bay detainees for prosecution, either in civilian or military court settings. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided that five of those will be tried in New York federal court for their alleged roles in the 2001 terror attacks.

Six others have been chosen to face military commissions. A venue has not been decided but the most likely place is a planned prison facility in Illinois to house terrorism-era detainees. The Obama administration needs money from Congress to renovate that facility.

As part of President Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, the task force has recommended 47 other detainees be held indefinitely without charge.