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On Obama's 'official' bus tour, a campaign cry

October 17, 2011|By Peter Nicholas | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama greets people after speaking at North Carolina's Asheville Regional Airport on Monday.
President Obama greets people after speaking at North Carolina's… (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty…)

Reporting from Asheville, N.C. — Would the crowds showing up at President Obama bus tour events kindly stay on message?

The word from the White House is that Obama is making an official government trip. Taxpayers are footing the bill, not the Obama reelection campaign. Why? Because the president is touting his jobs package, now stalled in Congress.

He isn't explicitly campaigning for another term. He isn't trying to boost his approval rating in North Carolina and Virginia -- two swing states crucial to his reelection chances.

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He's talking about jobs and the economy. About crumbling bridges and aging roads.

Got that?

Not everyone, it seems, has absorbed that message.

After Air Force One touched down at Asheville Regional Airport on Monday, Obama delivered a speech before an enthusiastic crowd that couldn't hold back.

"Four more years!" they chanted. "Four more years!"

Obama quickly moved to quell the campaign fever.

"Look, I appreciate the 'four more years,' but right now I'm thinking about the next 13 months," he said. "Because, yes, we've got an election coming up, but that election is a long ways away, and a lot of folks can't wait. A lot of folks are living paycheck to paycheck. A lot of folks are living week to week. You've got kids right now who've lost their teachers because at the local level you ended up having layoffs. You've got bridges right now that are crumbling and deteriorating. So we don't have time to wait."

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