Less than 24 hours after headlining a re-election rally for Gov. Martin O'Malley in Prince George's County, President Barack Obama was back in Maryland (and P.G.) delivering a brief statement on the latest jobless figures.
Obama's destination was Bladensburg, which he's previously used as a handy real-world backdrop. It's minutes from the White House but outside the evil capital city, if only barely (the entire event--door-to-door--took less than an hour of the president's day).
After touring Ernest Maier, Inc, a block and masonry company, Obama called economic recovery "the moral and national challenge of our time."
The president attempted to put a positive spin on the economy's very slow pull out of the worst downturn since the Depression. But as he stood behind a microphone on the shop floor, he acknowledged that "the damage (has been) so deep that it's going to take a long time to get out."
Trying to look the part of a chief executive working to turn things around, he addressed a live cable TV audience coatless, with shirtsleeves rolled (though his tie remained tightly knotted).
Obama touted provisions of a small business jobs law that he recently signed, including one designed to bolster state lending programs.
"Maryland, for example, will be able to support $250 million in new lending for businesses that are expanding and creating jobs in communities like this one," he said.
The latest jobs report, the final one before next month's midterm election, was more bad news for the administration and for Democratic candidates who--unlike Obama--are facing voters at a time of discontent and unease spurred by persistently high unemployment and slow economic growth.
Non-farm payrolls dropped by 95,000 nationwide, a result not only of the end of temporary Census jobs but also a reduction in employment by hard-hit state and local governments. The White House chose to highlight what little positive news there was in the latest figures.
Austan Goolsbee, the president's chief economic adviser, said in a statement: "Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 64,000 in September, continuing nine consecutive months of private sector job growth. This growth provides more evidence that the economy continues to recover, but we must do more to put the economy on a path of robust economic growth. At the same time, the rate of job growth is not as large as needed to bring the unemployment rate down quickly, as the unemployment rate remained at 9.6%."
Brendan Quinn,who bought the masonry block company from the Maier family in 2001, lives in Washington, DC. The chief operating officer, Frank Keeney, lives in Fallston, Maryland.
The lightning visit was Obama's 60th to Maryland since taking office.