On day three of the president’s bus tour to promote the American Jobs Act (or, perhaps more accurately, components of the American Jobs Act) Ground Force One pulled into Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
With President Obama was his secret weapon, the now-popular first lady Michelle Obama, who was on hand to announce a new veterans’ jobs initiative. According to the White House, “The American Logistics Association and their 270 affiliate companies have committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.”
The first lady called it the “largest coordinated effort by the private sector to hire veterans” that’s happened in years.
“This commitment puts us a quarter of the way toward reaching the president's challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 vets and military spouses by the end of 2013,” she continued.
Michelle Obama's presence at the fifth official event of the bus tour (The president has made a bunch of unannounced stops along the way.), coupled with the Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R-VA) attendance, caused somewhat of a tone shift in the president’s remarks.
At most stops, the president has been unrelenting in blaming congressional Republicans for inaction on his jobs bill, and while at the military base, he relayed some of his frustration when he talking about the veterans benefits in his jobs bill.
“So far Congress hasn’t acted on this proposal,” he said. “But I want you to know that I’m pushing them a little bit.”
But the president made no calls for the audience of military members to take to their communications devices, as he had in recent speeches, to tell Congress how they feel. Absent too were the jokes about how he is breaking the American Jobs Act into smaller parts so Republicans can understand it.
The president and first lady also had a short private meeting before the event with McDonnell and his wife. In it, the governor thanked the president for his support of veterans (in military-rich Virginia) and pushed again on the issue of federal support for Louisa County, which was affected by the earthquake in August.
But that was just the sideshow to the main attraction of the day: the first lady. This was her first appearance at an American Jobs Act event with the president, and she kept her focus on today’s announcement, veterans and her husband.
And President Obama kept a little of his focus on her.
“I also want to thank my extraordinary wife and Dr. Jill Biden, our second lady, for leading the effort to support and honor our military families, and making today possible,” he said. “Give them a big round of applause.”
After the audience applauded, the president looked over at the his wife and said, “She does all this, and she looks cute.”