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President Obama, First Lady Check Out WTC Site Before Heading To Fundraisers

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look down on WTC Memorial from 23rd Floor of Freedom Tower. (credit: Al Jones, 1010 WINS)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look down on WTC Memorial from 23rd Floor of Freedom Tower. (credit: Al Jones, 1010 WINS)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – President Barack Obama got a firsthand look Thursday afternoon at how construction is progressing at the World Trade Center site.

He arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport along with Michelle Obama before heading to Lower Manhattan to view what was once Ground Zero.  The president then greeted construction workers who were among those building One World Trade Center.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

The Obamas also met elected officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

During the tour, the president also left his mark on Ground Zero forever by signing a beam that will be used to finish construction of the Freedom Tower.  That beam was also signed by the First Lady, Cuomo, Christie and Bloomberg.

Back in April, a milestone was reached when One World Trade Center surpassed the Empire State Building as the tallest building in New York City. As of Wednesday, steel has been erected up to the 104th floor, and workers have begun installing marble finishing on the ground floor.

The president’s visit also meant mega-gridlock all throughout the city.

Thursday night, several streets around the city will closed. The Obamas headed to the West Village for a campaign fundraiser at the home of Sarah Jessica Parker and to Midtown for a stop at the Plaza Hotel.

Earlier, all PATH trains between the World Trade Center station and Exchange Place were suspended.  However, all service has since returned to normal.

Meanwhile, it was a split screen day of political drama on the campaign trail. President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney framed the debate that will clearly decide the November election: the economy and how best to fix it.

Slow job growth and high unemployment have not been kind to the Obama presidency, but he wants voters to buy into his belief that he can fix what’s broken by spending tax dollars on education, energy, and transportation and by taxing the rich, Kramer reported.

“If you agree with me, if you believe this economy grows best when everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules, then I ask you stand with me for a second term as president,” Obama said.

For Romney it was all about explaining how a change in leadership is what’s needed. His vision focuses on overhauling the tax system, supporting the Keystone oil pipeline and getting rid of the president’s controversial health care plan

“As you look at the President’s record, it is long on words and short on action that created jobs,” Romney said.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)