POLITICS

Obamas campaigning for jobs bill

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NORTH CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) - President Barack Obama teamed up with his popular and personable wife Wednesday on the final leg of a three-day bus trip, seeking to use her broad appeal to rally support for elements of his jobs bill and his re-election campaign.

Michelle Obama's appearance on her husband's driving tour through North Carolina and Virginia, two politically important Southern states, comes as she takes a more active role in the 2012 campaign.

Her stated purpose Wednesday was to help the president announce a commitment from several companies to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. The first lady has been leading a national campaign to rally the country around veterans.

But Mrs. Obama is also a not-so-secret weapon for the White House and the Obama presidential campaign. While her husband's approval ratings have fallen to the mid- to low 40s, the first lady's poll numbers remain high.
And the president, who can sometimes come off as professorial, is clearly more at ease when his wife is by his side.

"How lucky am I to be married to Michelle Obama?" Obama said after being introduced by his wife at an event at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.

He offered advice to the unmarried men in the audience: "The whole goal is to marry up. Try to improve your gene pool."

The Obamas announced that the American Logistics Association, which includes major companies like Tyson Foods Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co., pledged to hire more than 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.

The president called for bipartisan support for a proposal in his jobs bill that would give small businesses tax breaks if they hire out-of-work veterans. Larger tax breaks would go to businesses that hire unemployed wounded service members.

"When I first proposed this idea in a joint session of Congress, people stood up and applauded on both sides of the aisle," Obama said about tax credits to encourage hiring of veterans. "So when it comes for a vote in the Senate, I expect to get votes from both sides of the aisle. Don't just applaud about it. Vote for it."

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