Obama has highlighted the U.S. economy's addition of 429,000 manufacturing jobs during the past two years, touring factories in Wisconsin, Washington state and North Carolina in recent weeks. The United States lost 2.2 million manufacturing jobs in the two years before that.
Political calculations are not far from the surface in these trips — Virginia is expected to be a major election battleground later this year, and the Houston fundraisers added to the president's campaign bankroll. Though the end of January, Obama's campaign and the Democratic Party have raised about $250 million.
In Virginia, Obama promoted a $1 billion plan to create a network of up to 15 regional institutes to create partnerships among private industry, universities and community colleges and government. He also announced a $45 million pilot program that would show the type of potential collaboration among academia and industry.
In Texas, Obama was raising campaign cash among supporters who live in a reliably Republican state. Jimmy Carter, in 1976, was the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Texas, but changing demographics and an influx in Hispanic voters have given Democrats hopes of competing in the state beyond the 2012 elections.
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