RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
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W: Fired up! Ready to go! That fire's been missing from some of his presidential appearances. But it was evident yesterday. NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro was with the president as he visited Kansas City and Las Vegas.
ARI SHAPIRO: Yesterday, Air Force One touched down in Kansas City, a short walk from the airport hangar where Smith Electric builds batteries for electric trucks. A poster said huge payloads, zero emissions. Companies like Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay use these electric trucks to make deliveries. President Obama said some people argue we should abandon these efforts.
SHAPIRO: My answer is come right here to Kansas City, come see what's going on at Smith Electric. I think they're going to be hard-pressed to tell you that you're not better off than you would be if we hadn't made the investments in this plant.
SHAPIRO: That oblique partisan jab became an outright clobber later in the day. People sometimes accuse Mr. Obama of being too cool, but at a fundraiser for Senate candidate Robin Carnahan he was anything but.
SHAPIRO: These folks drove the economy into a ditch, and they want the keys back. And you get to say the same thing to them that you said to your teenager: You can't have the keys back, because you don't know how to drive yet.
SHAPIRO: Flying to Missouri on Air Force One, White House spokesman Bill Burton gave this explanation for the shift.
MONTAGNE: You know, what the president said was he was going to come to Washington and do everything he could to move our country in the right direction. And when there are moments that help to illustrate the differences between our philosophy and their philosophy, the president has taken it upon himself to point those out to the American people.
SHAPIRO: Mr. Obama seemed to acknowledge that risk when he made the case for why voters should send Carnahan to Washington.
SHAPIRO: She's not even going there to represent every aspect of either party's agenda or my agenda.
SHAPIRO: But elsewhere in the speech he seemed to take a different view of the role Carnahan would play if she were elected. He said if she were in the Senate, a Wall Street regulation bill would already be law.
SHAPIRO: I need another vote. It'd be helpful.
SHAPIRO: David Damore teaches political science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He says Senator Reid and President Obama are both trying to win a popularity contest that they have been losing for months.
SHAPIRO: It's an uphill battle, because I think clearly they lost the message war the first time around on both the stimulus and the health care. And now it's a little harder to sort of change the percept among voters.
SHAPIRO: Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the president in Las Vegas.
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