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Obama: 'Our focus cannot drift' from jobs, economy

BALTIMORE (AP) — Trying to reset the agenda amid scandal in Washington, President Barack Obama turned his attention Friday to the economy and said lawmakers should spend every day resolute on how to help it grow and get people back to work. "Our focus cannot drift," he said.

After a week that put him on the defensive and consumed by a trio of political controversies, Obama left the turmoil behind on a short helicopter flight about 40 miles north to Baltimore. The city has had its share of tough times in its move from an industrial to service economy, but Obama wanted to highlight its progress. Maryland overall has experienced job growth this year as part of a nationwide economic recovery.

Obama cited growth in the economy, a drop in unemployment nationwide and improvements in the housing and auto industries. But he said Washington still needs to do more to build a "rising, thriving middle class" that will boost economic growth even more.

"We're now poised for progress but our work is not done and our focus cannot drift," he said in remarks to employees of a factory that makes digging and pumping equipment for the mining industry. "We've got to stay focused on our economy and putting people back to work and raising wages and bringing manufacturing back to the United States of America."

"That has to be what we're thinking about every single day," Obama said.

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