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“Before we spend more taxpayer dollars on new programs, we must first review what is and is not working in existing initiatives, such as Head Start,” Mr. Kline said.

The trip to Georgia was an effort by the White House to demonstrate bipartisan support for the plan.

“States like Georgia and Oklahoma, which are states run by Republican governors, and routinely vote for Republican presidential candidates, by the way, have made important investments in the programs,” Mr. Earnest told reporters. “So there’s no reason it should get bogged down in partisan politics.”

Before his speech, Mr. Obama visited a preschool in Decatur for a photo op as he played briefly with young students. The school is actually on winter break, but it reopened for the president’s visit.

Mr. Obama said the children learn how to play well with others, “a trait we could use more of in Washington.”

• Ben Wolfgang reported from Washington.