RALEIGH, N.C. — President Barack Obama urged enthusiastic college students Wednesday to join him in his fight to get Congress to act on his new jobs bill. "Every single one of you can help make this bill a reality," the president called out at a hot and noisy rally at North Carolina State University.
Someone in the crowd yelled out, "I love you!"
"If you love me you got to help me pass this bill," the president responded.
It was Obama's second campaign-style rally in two days as he pushes for action on his $450 billion jobs plan. His program is running into a buzz saw of opposition from Republicans — and even some in his own Democratic Party — over his plans to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for it.
The president was in Ohio Tuesday, and last week in Virginia, as he travels key electoral states to sell the plan with the economy stuck in neutral heading into his 2012 re-election campaign.
On Wednesday Obama's focus was small businesses, which would be helped by Social Security payroll tax cuts. Before speaking, he toured WestStar Precision, a small business in the Raleigh suburb of Apex. It makes specialized components for the aerospace, medical and alternative energy industries.
He also announced plans to try to speed payments to federal contractors.
Republicans have accused Obama of playing politics by presenting them with tax hike ideas they've already rejected. But Obama said Wednesday, "We've got to make sure everybody pays their fair share, including the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations."
"It'd be nice if we could do it all, but we can't. We've got to make choices. That's what governing's about. And we know what's right," the president said.
He told the students: "The time for hand-wringing is over. The time for moping around is over. We've got to kick off our bedroom slippers and put on our marching shoes."
The president's trip to North Carolina, a traditionally Republican state he won in 2008, drew scorn from Republicans.
"This president is in love with the sound of his own voice, he's in love with campaigning, he's in love with fundraising, and he's in love with the stump," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "And he's doing what he loves to do best, which is to go to battleground states, masquerade as official business, use taxpayer money to do it, and campaign."
As the president barnstormed the country to build support for his plan, which he first unveiled last week in a speech to Congress, he drew support from House Democrats.
About 50 Democratic lawmakers called Wednesday for quick passage of the jobs bill and urged Americans to make their case in calls to lawmakers.
"Fourteen million people do not have 14 months to wait," said Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., who was surrounded by his colleagues on the steps of the Capitol's East Front. He was referring to the number of unemployed Americans and the time until the next election.
Still, there appeared to be little if any chance that the proposal would pass Congress in one piece.
Republicans who control the House have made clear they have little interest in Obama's plans to increase spending for things like school construction, highways, bridges and other projects, which accounts for nearly $200 billion of the legislation. GOP lawmakers seem more open to Obama's plans to extend unemployment insurance and cut the Social Security payroll tax for workers and businesses.4 comments on this story
Even in the Democratic-led Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has suggested that Obama is unlikely to get his way in his call for immediate action by Congress. Reid has said there are some other issues that need to be dealt with first, including transportation funding.
Obama has made clear he'd sign a portion of the legislation if that's all Congress could agree on, although he's said he would continue to fight to pass the whole thing.
Associated Press writer Donna Cassata in Washington contributed to this report.