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Capping week of scandal management, Obama says focus remains on jobs

President Obama Saturday tried to change the subject and repair some of the damage from a week of bruising controversies that have enveloped his administration. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.

It hasn’t been a fun week in the West Wing, but President Barack Obama insisted Friday that his focus remains on job creation despite Washington’s tendency to get “distracted”  by political battles. 

“I know it can seem frustrating sometimes when it seems like Washington’s priorities aren’t your priorities,” he said at a manufacturing plant in Baltimore, Md.  “I know it all seems like folks down there are more concerned with their jobs than with yours. Others may get distracted by chasing every fleeting issue that passes by but the middle class will always be my Number One focus, period.” 

The president’s remarks at Ellicott Dredges, a manufacturer of equipment used for infrastructure projects, came at the end of a week that saw the White House buffeted by competing scandals. On Wednesday, the administration released 100 pages of emails to try to stem controversy over alleged tinkering with official talking points in the wake of the 2012 Benghazi attack; also on Wednesday, in a last-minute statement to the press, Obama harshly reprimanded IRS officials and announced the resignation of the agency’s acting director after revelations that its staff targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny. 

But Obama’s message Friday was one of a bright future for a nation still scarred from the 2008 economic downturn. 

“You might not know it if you were just watching the news, and you’re exposed to all the partisan battles and brinksmanship in Washington, but the truth is there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about where this country is headed,” he said. 

The president also announced Friday that he has signed a Presidential Memorandum that will help cut down wait times to begin federal infrastructure projects by overhauling the permitting system. 

Obama urged workers in attendance to keep the pressure on lawmakers in Washington to keep working towards more job creation.   

“Sometimes our leadership isn’t focused where we need to be focused,” he said. “And that’s where you come in.”

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