President Obama focused on ways to fix the economy and create jobs Thursday during an enthusiastic speech in Holland, Michigan, but still some remained skeptical about the fanfare surrounding him.
Before a crowd of about 400 people at a facility that makes advanced batteries for hybrid and electric cars, the speech was reminiscent of a campaign event.
This was Obama's first public appearance since the stock market plunged in recent days, and the president took the opportunity to blame partisan politics for the gridlock in Washington and lack of action on the economy and debt crisis.
"Folks are playing political games," he said. "It's time to stop drawing lines in the sand".
Despite suggestions that Obama should call Congress back early from summer recess, he rejected the idea, saying "The last thing we need is people arguing in DC... We need people like you saying we're fed up."
The president promised several times that he had lots of ideas for job creation, although didn't list those ideas in the speech, rather assuring people he would be making proposals to Congress.
"I'm going to keep at it until every single American who wants a job can find one," he said.
There were several pauses for applause among the smiling crowd of mostly Johnson Controls employees. The company just got a big boost from Washington in the form of a $3 million grant to be used for research and technology. It's part of a total $175 million grant announced by Energy Secretary Steven Chu Wednesday to "accelerate the development and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies."
Forty projects in more than a dozen states will be funded by the grants according to the agency, aiming to make next generation vehicles more fuel efficient with lighter materials and cheaper batteries. The White House said the efforts will lead to jobs and improvements for the suffering auto industry.
After the speech, Obama spent about five minutes shaking hands with members of the audience, as one woman yelled, "He looks good for 50!"
Before the president even got to Michigan, the GOP made sure the media got its side of the story. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus held a conference call with reporters about before Obama arrived to reiterate concerns about the administration and what he called "failed policies."
The Michigan GOP also sent an email blast, which it titled "The Obama Downgrade," saying the state's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder deserves the credit turning around in the economy there in last few years.
"President Obama, look to Michigan as an example and Republican Congressional leadership as a guide" the release said. "Mr. President, you have brought change to Washington for the worse. Let conservative economic principles bring positive change to Washington in the future."
Obama won Michigan in 2008 General Election, but with the current state unemployment rate at over 10 percent, Michigan now is an important swing state.
According to a recent Fox News poll, only 44 percent of registered voters would re-elect Barack Obama in 2012, the rest said they would rather vote for someone else.
The president will embark on a tour of the Midwest next week, with a bus tour through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. All states he won in 2008 and needs to hold onto in 2012.