US & Canada

Labor Day: Barack Obama rallies Detroit crowds on jobs

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPresident Obama: ''We're fighting for the chance to give our kids a better life''

US President Barack Obama has used a Labor Day address to a lively, sympathetic crowd to call on his rivals to back his plans for job creation.

"We just need to get Congress on board," he told supporters in Detroit, Michigan, saying labour and business were already behind his plans.

On Thursday, Mr Obama will use an address to a joint session of Congress to set out job-growth strategy.

The US economy has stalled recently, with no extra jobs created in August.

The news was a gloomy prelude to the annual Labor Day holiday, which celebrates the role of the worker in American life.

'Tune in'

Speaking in Detroit, the president said his forthcoming plan would enable construction workers "to get dirty" building roads and bridges, and called for the "straight shooters in Congress" to support his plans.

He also ratcheted up political pressure on Congressional Republicans, saying: "Prove you'll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle-class families as you do for oil companies."

The White House has clashed repeatedly with Republicans in Congress since Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in 2010 mid-term elections.

A bitter fight over raising the US debt ceiling ended in a last-minute compromise in July, with more partisan disagreement expected in the coming months over the key issue of jobs.

In Detroit, Mr Obama alluded to his Thursday speech, in which he is expected to unveil a new strategy to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, telling supporters to "tune in on Thursday".

However, the president did hint that the plans would include a scheme to upgrade infrastructure and extend payroll tax cuts for working families.

"We've got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding. We've got private companies with the equipment and the manpower to do the building.

"We've got more than one million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now. There is work to be done and there are workers ready to do it," he said.

Starting gun

Image caption Michelle Bachmann was among the candidates quizzed at a South Carolina forum

The president spoke shortly after Sarah Palin and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney attended the Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire.

Mr Romney, once considered the Republican front-runner but now under pressure in the polls from Texas Governor Rick Perry, is expected to announce his own 59-point jobs plan on Tuesday.

He is expected to focus on repealing Mr Obama's healthcare legislation, limiting federal regulations and changing the US tax code.

Mr Romney then joined other leading Republican candidates at a presidential forum in South Carolina.

On the day traditionally seen as the starting point of any presidential primary race, only Mr Perry of the leading contenders was absent. He had returned to Texas to deal with a growing wildfire.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, another candidate seeking to maintain a strong position in the Republican field, repeated her frequent criticism of Mr Obama's healthcare plan - describing the legislation as a "dictator" over American lives and a "foundation for socialised medicine".

More on this story