Obama stumps in Michigan slump

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama spoke in an angry voice today as he delivered what has become his campaign stump speech.

The credit downgrade “was a self-inflicted wound,” the president declared. “That’s why people are frustrated — maybe you hear it in my voice — that’s why I’m frustrated, because you guys deserve better.”

Those were the words from Obama earlier during a sharply partisan speech to a friendly audience of 400 gathered at a battery manufacturer in Holland, Michigan.

The trip is one stop in an increasingly busy campaign schedule. Tonight Obama will be in New York City for two fundraisers expected to raise $2.3 million toward his re-election effort. And the president will embark next week on a three-day bus trip through three Midwestern swing states.

A July poll by Michigan-based EPIC-MRA of 600 likely voters showed Obama with 47 percent of people supporting him. His disapproval rate was also 47 percent in this critical swing-state, where the auto-industry’s decline has helped push unemployment to 10.5 percent. That’s slightly above the national average of 9.1 percent.

The Michigan speech included his routine claims. Obama said U.S. economic difficulties are the product of the Japanese earthquake, Arab protests and the European banking meltdown. The president also repeated his call for government support of promising technologies and urged Congress to raise taxes. He pushed Congress to pass several longstanding and novel bills to spur economic growth.

On this trip, the president emphasized his administration’s support for battery technology, his claim that Washington partisanship is responsible for the credit downgrade, and his role as a champion of middle-class Americans in a gridlocked federal government. (RELATED: Obama gives Small Business Admin. report the coal shoulder)

“There is nothing wrong with our country … there is something wrong with out our politics that we need to fix,” he said. “Time and again, we’ve seen partisan brinkmanship get in the way … There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.”

“That has to stop … we’re supposed to all be on the same team,” he said.

The government should invest in technologies, including advanced batteries, he said. The Johnson Controls factory he visited had hired up to 75 people, using portions of grants worth $299 million from a $1.5 billion project established by his administration.

“What also made this possible are the actions that we took together as a nation,” Obama said.

The theme of government economic intervention was also offered by White House press secretary Jay Carney during an impromptu press conference aboard Air Force One on the flight to Michigan.

“That’s how America is going to win the future, that’s how America is going to be globally competitive,’’ Carney said. “We’ve tried a lot of ideas in the past, including just giving very large tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, and that didn’t workout so well.”

In a tacit recognition of the public worry about government spending, Obama noted the nation must get its spending under control. (RELATED: Obama’s Iftar guest list omits controversial attendees)

“We do have to pay for these things … [but] we can’t ask the people in this room, middle-class families, to bear the burden,” he said, as he indirectly called for additional taxes on wealthy Americans.

“Everybody has got to do their part, everybody has got to chip in,” he said. “That’s fair. You learn it in kindergarten. That’s what all this fuss was about in Washington” during the debt ceiling talks.

But he also wanted the workers to chip in and support his political message. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and the only way we will get it done is if everybody, Democrats and Republicans, find a way to put country ahead of party, he said at the end of his speech. “That’s what I’m fighting for. I’m here to enlist you in that fight.”