WATCH: Obama Sits Down With Elementary Kids
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President Barack Obama left behind scandal-focused Washington on Friday to focus on the country's slowly improving jobs picture. Obama stopped at an elementary school that provides early childhood education. (May 17)

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SHOTLIST:POOL -- AP CLIENTS ONLYBaltimore -- May 17,. 20131. President Barack Obama walks into room and says hello, zoom out to show kids who shout "Hi, Mr. President."2. Cutaway of girl3. Obama sits at table with kids4. Teacher at whiteboard5. Obama raises hand6. Kids raising their hands7. Obama shaking hands with kidsSTORYLINE:President Barack Obama left behind scandal-focused Washington on Friday to focus on the country's slowly improving jobs picture. Obama took a short helicopter trip about 40 miles north to Baltimore, which has had its share of tough times in the move from an industrial to service economy. But Maryland has experienced job growth this year as part of a nationwide economic recovery. The White House said the trip would focus on three areas of needed investment to grow the middle class _ jobs, skills and opportunity. The president plans to highlight one of the manufacturing companies still thriving in the city by speaking at Ellicott Dredges. It makes equipment for excavation under water and on beachfronts around the world. Obama also was visiting a community center that provides job training to parents and an elementary school that provides early childhood education. Obama has proposed that public preschool be available for all 4-year-olds from low-income families. The focus on Obama's economic agenda comes at the end of a week that found the president consumed by a trio of political controversies. They include the targeting of conservative political groups by the Internal Revenue Service, the administration's response to last year's deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, and the seizure of Associated Press phone records by the Justice Department as part of a leak investigation. At the elementary school, Obama watched as a group of youngsters learned to write about their favorite zoo animals. He asked what else they are learning and proceeded to quiz them on simple arithmetic. When a student couldn't come up with the answer to "2 minus 1," Obama said in a sympathetic tone that "subtraction is tougher than addition."(****END****)