DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama promoted job creation in politically important North Carolina Monday, trying to assure Americans he's focused on their No. 1 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 presidential hopefuls who were meeting in New Hampshire later Monday for a debate where they were likely to agree to disagree with Obama on his approach on the economy.
"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. We've added more than 2 million private sector jobs over the last 15 months alone, 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."
"I am optimistic about our future," the president said, even while acknowledging that "we can't be complacent."
Obama announced details of a program to train 10,000 new American engineers every year, saying private companies will join the government to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math. They'll offer incentives to students to finish their degrees and help universities pay for their engineering programs.
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