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Obama Tries to Sell Agenda, Presidency

Brian Kersey/Getty Images
President Barack Obama tours Orion Energy Systems Inc. in Manitowoc, Wis., on Wednesday as he begins a multistate, weeks-long tour to sell his vision for the nation, which he spelled out in Tuesday’s State of the Union.

President Barack Obama did what he needed to do with his State of the Union address Tuesday, laying out his vision for how the nation transitions to a new economy through innovation and fiscal discipline.

But now comes the hard part: selling it.

Obama hit the road Wednesday to kick off what will be a weeks-long national campaign to get Americans on board with his message of “winning the future” in the global economy. Presidents typically travel the country after their State of the Union speeches to try to seize on any post-address momentum, but Obama’s tour may have slightly higher stakes: His popularity is just beginning to climb after months in the doldrums, and his re-election campaign is just getting under way.

His first stop on the “White House to Main Street Tour” was Manitowoc, Wis., where he viewed three clean-energy companies that he said represented the kinds of businesses that are helping the country stay competitive.

“Here in America, we play to win,” he said during remarks at Orion Energy Systems Inc., a solar power company in Manitowoc.

“If entrepreneurs like [CEO Neal Verfuerth] keep sticking with it and small businesses like Orion keep breaking new ground, and if we, as a country, continue to invest in you, then I’m absolutely confident America will win the future in this century,” Obama said.

The president will hammer his message of innovation over the coming days; the theme is one of five pillars that he outlined in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. Obama will spend the coming weeks campaigning on each of the other themes: education, building, reform and responsibility.

“As the president talks about building, as the president talks about education on trips in the next several weeks ... you will see him highlight different ...  stories around the country that help highlight some of the important things that are happening all over this country and throughout the states to meet and address these challenges,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday during a gaggle aboard Air Force One.

Obama won’t be the only one out there campaigning. Vice President Joseph Biden spent Wednesday in Indiana visiting a hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturer. Karen Mills, who heads the Small Business Administration, was in St. Louis visiting Innoventor Inc., a company that has helped foster green technology. And Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will spend today in South Carolina touring an advanced transportation fuel technology development facility.

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