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November 22. 2011 1:09PM

Obama faults Congress for blocking American Jobs Act

MANCHESTER - President Obama has returned to Washington D.C., after a whirlwind visit to Manchester today that included a brief meeting with Mayor Ted Gatsas, a surprise visit at a local diner and a speech in a packed auditorium at Central High.

This was the president's first visit to New Hampshire in nearly two years and his first to Manchester since the 2008 election campaign.

The president's official purpose in visiting the Granite State was to promote his American Jobs Act plan and to urge Congress to extend a payroll tax cut.

The three-hour visit, however, also had the tone of a campaign stop, as the president gears up to fight for reelection.

"As I look around this room and I see these young people, but I also see their parents, I'm thinking, folks in Manchester, you guys work hard. You play by the rules," Obama said told an enthusiastic audience at Central that included students, teachers and members of the public. "At the very least you should expect Congress to do the same. They should be doing everything in their power to make our economy stronger, not weaker."

The president's message, however, had its detractors. Several dozen supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gathered at a park near Central High, some of them holding signs that read “Obama Isn't Working.”

The visit also coincides with the Romney campaign's launch of TV ads airing in New Hampshire that criticize the president's management of the economy.

Click here to view a gallery of photos from the President's visit.

President Obama gets 'Mic Checked' by Occupy protestrrs


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MANCHESTER - 1 p.m. - President Obama has concluded his speech, greeting members of an enthusiastic and supportive audience before leaving the auditorium at Manchester Central High.

In his speech, the president faulted members of Congress for blocking his proposed American Jobs Act and for failing to reach a deal on reducing the federal deficit this week.

He said that Congress "still had another chance" next week, to pass a payroll tax cut that he said would benefit workers and small business owners.

"You have to send a message, to put money back in the pockets of working families," Obama said. "The American people are with us on this."

He ended the speech on a note of optimism, saying "There's nothing in this country we can't fix."

The crowd erupted in applause.

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MANCHESTER - 12:40 p.m. - President Obama has taken the stage at Central to rousing applause, however, he was interrupted by a small group of Occupy protesters.

A person shouted "Mic check," the familiar cry of people participating in the Occupy protests nationwide. A small group of people responded in turn, and the protester said, "Mr. President, 4,000 people have been arrested in protests."

The protesters were quickly drowned out by students, who chanted "Obama."

The president said, "I have a whole lot of things to talk about today. Here my out, and I'll listen to you

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MANCHESTER - 12:10 p.m. - There was excitement in the auditorium at Manchester Central, as students, teachers and guests waited for the president to take the stage. The auditorium was packed to the rafters with people and the press corps, with at least seven video cameras arrayed next to the speaking platform and 20 journalists.

The presidential podeum was set up, as was a teleprompter. Three large American flags serve as a backdrop to the stage.

Central Principal Ronald Mailhot spoke briefly, saying, "Welcome back, Mr. President."

As the motorcade pulled up to the high school, there were are about 20 to 30 protesters at Bronstein Park, some of them holding signs saying: "Obama's Not Working."

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MANCHESTER - 11:54 a.m. - After speeding in his motorcade through central Manchester, where groups of residents lined closed streets waving, the president made an unscheduled stop at Julien's Corner Kitchen on Bridge Street. There he met with a family, the Corkery's.

From a White House statement:

"Today, the President sat down with the Corkery family at Julien's Corner Kitchen to discuss the importance of extending and expanding the payroll tax cut that has given tax breaks to millions of families across the country this year. Chris Corkery is a retired Colonel, serving 26 years in the United States Army. Chris has been a math teacher at Central High School for the past 12 years. Mr. Corkery was joined by his wife Kathy, a small business owner, and their two sons, Andrew and Nicholas."

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MANCHESTER - 11:30 a.m. - Air Force One landed at 11:00 a.m and Pres. Obama was met on the tarmac by Gov. John Lynch and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, with whom the president spoke for a couple minutes. The president then greeted some of the several dozen members of the public gathered outside the terminal.

A motorcade numbering more than 20 vehicles took the president across the city by way of I-293, which was closed to traffic. He is scheduled to speak at Manchester Central High School.

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MANCHESTER - 10:57 a.m. - Several dozen people are gathered on the tarmac outside the terminal of Wiggins Airways at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport awaiting the arrival of President Barack Obama. He is due to touch down at 11:00 a.m.

Gov. John Lynch and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas have arrived and are waiting inside the terminal.

From the airport, Obama will be taken to Manchester Central High School, where he will outline a tax cut proposal that is part of his proposed American Jobs Act.

This is the president's first visit to New Hampshire in nearly two years.

Tickets for the general public were snatched up by this morning for the event, according to Central High School secretary Sarah Labbe, but there are a few tickets set aside for local dignitaries and officials that are still available.

Tracy Mancuso of the Manchester School District Superintendent's Office said of the 15 tickets reserved for the Board of School Committee, eight still remained. Those member that did not taken their tickets could not attend the event because of work and other prior obligations, Mancuso said.

- Reports from Union Leader Staff Reporters Ted Siefer and Beth LaMontagne Hall


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