LAS VEGAS – President Barack Obama is wrapping up a two-day swing through Missouri and Nevada with a speech on clean energy that could deliver a boost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who's in a tough fight for re-election.
In Friday's address, Obama planned to call on Congress to expand a tax credit program for advanced energy manufacturing jobs. Eligible would be solar projects that Reid has been promoting heavily in Nevada as a way to capitalize on his state's scorching climate and cut down on pollution from coal.
Obama was to speak to an audience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, along with officials from a solar panel manufacturer called Amonix that's opening a new facility in Las Vegas with help from the tax credits.
Hours before Obama arrived in the Nevada on Thursday to hold a fundraiser for Reid, the Departments of Energy and Interior joined Reid in announcing a new "Solar Demonstration Zone" in Nevada where new solar technologies can be tested and developed.
The developments combined to underscore Reid's influence in bringing jobs and benefits to his state, a central theme of the Democratic leader's re-election campaign that's been undercut by Nevada's highest-in-the-nation unemployment figures.
At Thursday night's fundraiser at the Aria casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Obama gave voters some other reasons to elect Reid to a fifth term, saying he needed the senator's help in Washington.
The president cast the upcoming elections as a choice between the party he said caused the economic meltdown and the one that's fixing it, seizing on a populist, sharply partisan theme for the critical November midterms.
"This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess or the policies that are leading us out of the mess," Obama said. "It's a choice between falling backward and moving forward."
Obama also went on the attack against Reid's GOP opponent, tea party favorite Sharron Angle, dismissing her views as extremist and ridiculing some of her comments — though without ever mentioning her by name.
Earlier Thursday, at fundraisers for Missouri Democratic Senate hopeful Robin Carnahan, Reid delivered the same message, warning voters that electing Republicans would set back the economic recovery that's just starting to emerge.
Obama also toured an electric truck manufacturer in Kansas City. Such pairing of official presidential events with campaign appearances lets the White House bill the candidates' campaigns for far less of the president's travel costs, otherwise covered by taxpayers.