President Barack Obama will visit battleground Virginia late next week with campaign stops scheduled in communities and neighborhoods throughout the state.
Obama will spend two days in the commonwealth beginning Friday, July 13, campaign officials said, emphasizing a theme that focuses on the economy and the middle class -- and the contrasting economic visions for the country with Republican Mitt Romney.
The campaign said more information on the times and locations of the president’s trip will be announced next week.
Various polls show the president with a lead in the state over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney ranging from 3 to 7 percentage points. In June, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Obama up 47-42.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, visited Virginia last week, putting in campaign stops in Salem, near Roanoke, and Sterling in Loudoun County.
Obama kicked off his reelection campaign with a rally in Richmond in early May. In March, he stopped at a Rolls-Royce facility in Prince George.
Virginia and its 13 electoral votes are considered critical to the success of both Republican and Democratic presidential bids. In 2008, Obama made history by becoming the first Democratic candidate since 1964 to win the state on his way to the presidency. The campaign has opened 17 offices across the state.
Obama will arrive following a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld his health-care initiative as constitutional. More than one million Virginians are currently without health insurance.
But on this trip, the president is expected to talk economics – and it couldn’t come at a more critical time. On Friday, a newly released jobs report showed national unemployment mired at 8.2 percent. Virginia, in contrast, continues to remain well below the nation’s economic woes with a rate of 5.6 percent.
Officials said Obama will discuss investments in education, energy, innovation and infrastructure as a means of reducing national debt and creating jobs.
Not surprisingly, the president’s two-day tour is likely to hit some bumps along the way. Virginia’s Republicans have lashed out over recent court rulings affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas regulations and the administration’s decision to exclude Virginia from upcoming opportunities in offshore drilling.
Obama’s campaign has spent millions recently on ads in swing states like Virginia assailing Romney’s own economic record, suggesting he destroyed businesses and shipped jobs oversees as an executive with Bain Capital, and would enact policies that give tax breaks to millionaire’s at the expense of the middle class.
Romney’s campaign, meanwhile, has seized on the nation’s sluggish economy and discouraging job numbers.
“After 41 straight months of unemployment about 8 percent and widespread weakening across our economy, it’s more clear than ever that President Obama’s policies are holding us back from a real recovery,” said Curt Cashour, Romney’s Virginia spokesman.
“The president’s policies have clearly not been successful in reigniting this economy, in putting people back to work, in opening up manufacturing plants across the country,” Romney said Friday in New Hampshire.
“The president's policies have not gotten America working again. And the president is going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it.”