The President was traveling to North Carolina and Florida, two swing states which will help decide his fate next year, on a day when the first Republican campaign debate was set to reverberate with scything attacks on his record.
He was meeting his Jobs Council, a group of corporate CEOs and academics set up to promote ideas for employment growth, at a factory that manufactures world-leading energy efficient LED lighting.
Obama’s efforts to unleash growth come as unemployment and the economy emerge as top themes of the quickly unfolding 2012 election race, as Republicans begin to vie for a place on the party’s nominating ticket.
Front-runner Mitt Romney unleashed the most stinging assault yet of the nascent Republican campaign, accusing Obama of being indifferent to the plight of Americans stuck in the jobless trap.
In a new campaign ad, Romney played off a remark by the president that disappointing recent jobs data represented a “bump in the road” on the route to a full economic recovery.
The spot shows people lying in a road, then standing up in turn to declare “I’m an American, not a bump in the road” and holding up a placard with their name followed by “stands with Mitt.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney shrugged off the attack, saying that President Obama had used a common phrase in the English lexicon and adding the economy was “heading in the right direction” though the path may not be smooth.
Obama’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council was meeting at a firm called Cree in Durham, North Carolina, which the White House sees as an example of the innovation needed to kick-start employment in competitive global markets.
The firm has hired some 750 people, including over 180 scientists and engineers in the last year, and has built a new production line for its LED lighting products.
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Jamaica Observer publication)