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The president also renewed his call for a $1 billion college "Race to the Top" competition that would reward states that make significant changes in higher education policies while also containing tuition costs.
For Obama, who has made no secret of his desire to get out of Washington when he can, the bus tours have become a favorite method for reconnecting with the public. Beyond his official events, the president often makes unscheduled stops at local restaurants and businesses, and sometimes pulls off on the side of the road to greet cheering crowds.
As his motorcade made its way from Buffalo to Syracuse, N.Y. , on Thursday, Obama stopped off in Rochester to have lunch at a restaurant with a small group of college students, recent graduates and their parents. He then made another pitch for his college affordability proposals to a crowd of high school students, parents and educators at Syracuse's Henninger High School.
On Friday, Obama plans to hold a town hall meeting at Binghamton University, then travel to Scranton, Pa., for an event at Lackawanna College. Vice President Joe Biden, a Scranton native, is to join Obama in his hometown. Biden has spent much of the week in Houston, where his son Beau underwent a medical procedure at a cancer center.
The president's highly secure bus was purchased by the Secret Service in 2011 for $1.1 million. The bus — unofficially known as "Ground Force One" — has dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights.