YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Distancing himself from today's Democratic primaries in which two his party's incumbent U.S. Senators are running for the political lives, President Obama dropped in on the rust belt to trumpet administration recovery efforts and blast Republicans for sitting on the sidelines.
"I saw the 85-ton electric arc furnace," the president told workers at V & M Star, a manufacturer of pipe and other tubular steel products. "I know you're building Iron Man's suits somewhere in here," he joked about current hit movie, eliciting polite laughter from his audience.
Here in a state where the unemployment rate stands at 11 percent, above the national average of 9.9 percent, Mr Obama tried to put Republicans on the defensive for not supporting his economic recovery plans.
"I think those critics who have been trying to bad mouth these efforts - they know its working," said the president.
He accuses some of them of opposing the programs but then taking credit for the progress, even attending the ribbon cuttings.
"If the just-say-no crowd had won out - if we had done things that way - we'd be in a deeper world of hurt," said Mr. Obama.
"Just imagine how much farther along we could be if we worked together - if I'd gotten a little help," he told his audience.
He said despite all "the naysayers in Washington, who are always looking for the cloud in every silver lining; the fact is our economy is growing again."
In a cavernous plant filled with the pipes manufactured here, including some for the oil drilling industry, Mr. Obama said his programs have helped companies such as V & M Star to expand - and will bring other dormant factories to life.
"We could sit back, do nothing, make a bunch of excuses, play politics and watch America's decline - or we could stand up and fight for our future," said the president.
Mr. Obama announced a new agreement to help other communities like Youngstown revitalize and redevelop "shuttered GM facilities, preparing them for new industries, new jobs, and new opportunity."
"That's a success story that you're all a part of," he told plant workers.
It's programs like that, he said, that helped produce the surge in new payroll jobs last month - and the most manufacturing jobs since 1998.
He said he knows his federal aid programs were not popular, be he thinks Republicans are the ones who need to apologize for trying to obstruct them.
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.