President Barack Obama Thursday defended his handling of the U.S. economy and said his policies would boost job growth, as he began a two-day swing to campaign for Democrats in November’s congressional elections.


Obama has come under fire for bank and auto bailouts and a $787 billion stimulus whose effectiveness is a subject of ongoing debate. He is under election-year pressure to reduce a 9.5 percent unemployment rate.


“We’ve got a long way to go,” Obama said at a Kansas City electric car factory. “But what is absolutely clear is we’re moving in the right direction.”


Obama was raising cash for the U.S. Senate campaigns of two Democrats — Robin Carnahan of Missouri and Senate Majority Harry Reid of Nevada. He was attending a pair of Carnahan events before traveling to Las Vegas.


Reid is engaged in a tough fight despite being the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, a sign of an election year in which many incumbents are running for their political lives.

Obama, who will face a tougher audience for his agenda if Republicans make big gains in November, is trying to convince impatient Americans that his economic policies are in fact working.