Obama, the fundraising leader of his party, sets out to make his presence pay for Democrats

By Ben Feller, AP
Monday, August 16, 2010

Obama launching 3 days of fundraising travel

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — President Barack Obama is telling workers at an advanced battery plant that clean technology industries like theirs can help reverse a longtime flow of manufacturing jobs oversees.

Obama made the comments Monday on the first stop of a three-day fundraising trip in which he will play up his economic agenda.

The battery factory, ZBB Energy Corp., is expanding with the help of a $1.3 million federal stimulus loan.

Obama said he hopes his energy policies will help to “jump-start a homegrown clean energy future” and generate 800,000 new jobs by 2012.

“For years, we’ve heard about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas,” Obama said. And while the economy still remains fragile “you’re pointing us in the right direction,” he said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (AP) — President Barack Obama is out to make sure his presence pays for Democrats, launching a three-day fundraising trip on Monday in which he will touch nearly every region of the nation and play up his economic agenda.

Obama is spending the heart of his Monday in Wisconsin, raising money for gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and other Wisconsin Democrats. Barrett was an early supporter of Obama’s once long-shot White House bid.

He will cap his day at a glitzy fundraiser in Los Angeles for congressional Democratic candidates.

With Congress gone and much of Washington in vacation mode, Obama is squeezing in a largely political trip that foreshadows how he will campaign in the fall — aggressively, in places where is he wanted. Over three days, Obama will be raising dollars for Democrats in five states, from the Midwest to the West, Northwest to Northeast, South and back home.

The presidential agenda each day will underline Obama’s efforts, supported mostly by Democrats in Congress, to turn around a lumbering economy by investing long-term in a new foundation. On Monday, the president’s first stop was ZBB Energy Corp., a company near Milwaukee that makes batteries and “intelligent” power systems that use renewable sources of energy.

The company received a $1.3 million federal stimulus loan, which it is putting toward a factory renovation the company says will triple its manufacturing capacity. The company says it could keep nearly a dozen workers on the job as a result of the project and hopes to hire about 80 new workers over time.

By pairing official events with political ones, the White House can bill taxpayers for most of the cost of the trip.

President to all but leader of the Democratic Party, Obama has a political job description that demands he help elect lawmakers and state chief executives who support his agenda. And that often means showing up to support their campaigns.

“The president takes that role seriously,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “And we obviously are getting closer and closer to some very important elections.”

In November, all 435 House seats, one-third of the Senate, and a majority of governor’s and legislative jobs will be on the ballot. Democrats now control the House and Senate, but the ailing economy has turned voters against incumbents.

All together, Obama will visit Wisconsin, California, Washington, Ohio and Florida before returning to the nation’s capital Wednesday night. Each stop involves tight races in states that could be vital to Obama himself in 2012.

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