Obama: "No excuse" Congress hasn't done more to create jobs

President Barack Obama speaks about jobs for veterans, Friday, June 1, 2012, at Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions Global Headquarters in Golden Valley, Minn.
Glen Stubbe,AP Photo/The Star Tribune
Glen Stubbe,AP Photo/The Star Tribune

(CBS News) GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Responding to the latest bump in the national unemployment rate which sent it up a tenth in May to 8.2 percent, President Obama diverted blame, saying there's "no excuse" that Congress has not done more to promote creation of jobs.

"Today we're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," said the president in a speech to workers at a Honeywell plant in this suburb of Minneapolis.

He said the economy "still faces some serious headwinds," citing, among other things, the Euro crisis across the Atlantic. He said it's having an "an impact worldwide" and is starting to cast a shadow on the U.S. as well.

"We knew the road to recovery would not be easy, we knew it would take time, we knew there would be ups and downs along the way," the president said in a campaign-style speech to a supportive crowd of 1,700.

But determined to sound optimistic just five months before American voters decide if he gets a second term, he said "we will come back stronger."

"We do have better days ahead," he declared even as top Republicans took aim at his policies today.

Within minutes of the release this morning of the government's latest unemployment report, House Speaker John Boehner slammed Mr. Obama's "failed policies." He said they have made "high unemployment and a weak economy the sad new normal for families and small businesses."

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Mr. Obama returned fire from Honeywell saying "we've got responsibilities that are bigger than an election."

"My message to Congress is now is not time to play politics. Now is not the time to sit on your hands," he added.

The president again pressed Congress to act on the legislative "to do list" he unveiled last month in Albany, N.Y. He put special emphasis on the provision for a Veterans Jobs Corps "so we can put our returning heroes back to work as cops and firefighters."

With the war in Iraq over and a plan in place for a two year wind-down of the U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, the president said "over a million more of those outstanding heroes are going to be joining this process to transition back into civilian life over the next few years."

He said "a lot of returning heroes with advanced skills.... don't get hired simply because they don't have civilian licenses or certifications that a lot of companies require."

With that in mind, he announced he was taking action that doesn't require congressional approval to help military personnel get the certifications they'll need for private sector jobs in manufacturing, health care and information technology, among other fields.

He called for a Defense Department task force to "create opportunities for up to 126,000 service members to gain the industry-recognized certifications for high-demand manufacturing jobs."

"Just like you fought for us," said the president of veterans - a group whose political support he wants, "we'll keep fighting for you."

After his speech, the rest of Mr. Obama's day on the road was devoted to fund-raising for his re-election campaign.

He was breaking a personal one-day record by doing six fund-raising events: three in Minneapolis and three more at home in Chicago.

He also was setting a new record for his campaign by setting a $50,000 per ticket price at one of the fund-raising events.

By day's end, Mr. Obama will have brought to 145, the number of campaign fund-raisers he's done since filing with the Federal Election Commission last year as a candidate for re-election.

At the same point in the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush eight years ago, he had done just 79 fund-raising events.

Mr. Obama was spending the night home alone at his residence in Chicago. His family was not joining him there.

"He told me specifically that he's looking forward to sleeping in his own bed and might even make himself breakfast in the morning," said Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.