President Obama's supporters reject criticism of his bus trip

CHESTERFIELD (WWBT)- It was the hot topic this morning on cable news and among the political chattering class.

Should Barack Obama being using taxpayer funds to travel through two key swing states just ahead of his re-election bid?

Defenders of the president believe this trip was not only appropriate- but it was necessary.

"It is great to be in Virginia, it is great to be in Chesterfield County," said Obama at an event at Chesterfield's Fire Station #9 in Bon Air.

The optics were impressive. Big fire trucks, dedicated public servants, and a president being pictured as someone fighting to help them.

"When that bell rings it takes a special kind of courage to answer the call and rush and great risk to yourself to help your fellow citizens," said Obama.

But while the president didn't talk at all about getting re-elected, that backdrop and the extended coverage on local media had republicans calling the president out. Party leaders said he is working more to help his chances in 2012 instead of really working to pass his jobs bill.

Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), a supporter of the president, admits being seen in Virginia is good for Barack Obama.

"I think it is pretty clear that Virginia is a battleground state as far as the election goes," she said.

But McClellan argues that while 2012 is important, there are just as big of issues to deal with right now.

"We've got a pretty important congressional delegation," she added.  "I think in part he is speaking to them. He is speaking to Eric Cantor."

And the Richmond delegate made the case that if president of the United States is involved; it is only natural for talk about elections to crop up.

"No matter where he goes there is some politics," McClellan said. "But right now he is trying to govern."

Politics that Virginia and Richmond in particular will continue to play an important role in.

And the president is prepared to make a second run at this jobs bill. He will now break it up into little pieces and pass each component on its own, instead of doing it all at once like he originally planned.

Copyright 2011 WWBT. All rights reserved.