Obama to launch campaign-style jobs tour in Austin

President Obama will travel this week to Austin, where the jobs market has been booming, to kick off a new focus on the middle class and economic growth.

Obama is planning a campaign-style “Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour” across the country, beginning Thursday in Austin, a magnet for new tech jobs. The push seems designed to help jump-start the president’s second term.

Obama’s momentum has stalled on Capitol Hill in the past few months, with the president unable to convince a divided Congress to pass any gun-control measures or to thwart the budget cuts known as the sequester. Over the past few weeks, Obama has been playing a so-called inside game, inviting selected senators from both parties to dinner in an effort to reach a broad accord on fiscal issues, but such a deal has eluded them – so far, at least.

Now, White House officials hope that Obama, by campaigning outside of Washington, can galvanize the public and pressure Congress to back his legislative agenda, including economic measures he outlined in February’s State of the Union address.

“Even though some in Congress are determined to create more self-inflicted economic wounds, there are things Washington could be doing right now to help American businesses, schools and workers,” Josh Earnest, deputy White House press secretary, said Sunday. “We need to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, and that means investing in things that are already creating good-paying, stable jobs that can support a middle class family.”

In Austin, the president will visit Manor New Tech High School, which, Earnest said, teaches students “real-world skills they need to fill the jobs that are available right now.”

Later in the day, Obama will visit an Austin-based tech company and meet with, who Earnest called, “technology entrepreneurs who are hiring workers with cutting-edge skills and creating the tools and products that will drive America’s long-term economic growth.”

Obama also will meet with workers who, Earnest said, “are working hard to get into and stay in the middle class to discuss his vision for ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living.”

The president will travel to other cities in coming weeks, though the White House has not named them yet.

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Sean Sullivan | May 5, 2013