President Obama is embarking on a two-day campaign swing through Virginia on Friday seeking to build enthusiasm for his economic plan in the face of persistent high unemployment.
Obama will make tax fairness a centerpiece of his pitch to Virginians over the next two days at half a dozen campaign stops starting in Virginia Beach and ending in Fairfax County, campaign officials said.
From Virginia Beach, Obama will travel to Hampton, which has one of the largest concentrations of military personnel in the nation, and then on to a fire station in Roanoke. On Saturday, the president will travel to a restaurant in Glen Allen and to Centreville High School in Fairfax County.
Of the five areas he’s planning to visit, Obama handily won four of them in the 2008 election and narrowly lost one, Virginia Beach, by a single point to Sen. John McCain, then his Republican opponent, according to exit polls.
Four of the areas he is targeting have large black populations and three of them have median incomes below the state average of $61,000.
“President Obama is not trying to plow new ground in Virginia,” said Garren Shipley, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia. “It looks like he’s just trying to reactivate the coalition he had in 2008.”
Obama will try to cast himself as a crusader for a thriving middle class and Romney as a greedy corporate raider interested only in making the wealthy wealthier.
“The vision for a strong middle class is what we’re fighting for,” Obama said at a recent campaign event. “Republicans in Congress and Mr. Romney ... they want more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”
Joined by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine, the state’s former governor, Obama will repeat his push for Congress to pass a bill extending tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000.
Republicans are preparing for Obama’s arrival in Virginia with a barrage of attack ads and press calls criticizing his stewardship over the defense budget, which could shrink by half a billion dollars at the end of the year under a stopgap measure that Congress approved last August.
And the GOP will note that unemployment has stayed high throughout Obama’s term.
“As he comes to Virginia, most Virginians are concerned about the economy and their jobs,” said Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va. “And what does the president bring with him? He has a huge box of pink slips that he’s going to distribute across Virginia.”
The Romney campaign has organized a couple events on Friday ahead of Obama’s first campaign rally, including a press conference with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott
“Virginia is the home of America’s military,” McDonnell said Thursday.
“The president has put our defense budget on course for radical cuts that even his own secretary of defense says will be ‘devastating’ to U.S. national security.”