By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — President Obama toured CMU’s Robotics Engineering Center, signed one of the robots and then announced a major $500 million project to advance manufacturing in America.

“The concept of advanced manufacturing is not complicated. It means how do we do things better, faster, cheaper to design and manufacture superior products that allow us to compete all over the world,” the President told 150 university and business leaders.

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While the speech was national in focus, it was clear that Pittsburgh was a special target.

“This is a city that knows something about manufacturing. For generations of Americans, it was the ticket to a middle class life.”

“We have advanced manufacturing all over western Pennsylvania,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “I think the President came here recognizing that Americans can still produce things. We are competitive.”

But policy aside, it’s good politics for President Obama to make his fourth visit here in 20 months.

“Any Democratic candidate for President has to win Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Sen, Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat. “I think he will, but we’ve all got work to do.”

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To win re-election, the President clearly must carry Allegheny County and the state of Pennsylvania. Talking about jobs here in Pittsburgh is a key part of that strategy.

And while the President didn’t sample the local food on this trip like so many politicians do, he did give front row seats to the owners of Pamela’s, which he has visited in the past.

“He said that he wished he would have gotten in earlier last night so he could have come for some pancakes — and there’s a hug and a kiss,” Gail Klingensmith of Pamela’s told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.

Before leaving town, President Obama also became the first president to greet the 171st Air Refueling Wing.

“This is the first time the President and Air Force One’s been here at the 171st and it’s a great moment,” said Chief Master Sgt. Victor Guerra.

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