Obama To Court Virginia Voters

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) – President Barack Obama on Friday begins what his re-election campaign calls a "two-day barnstorm" across Virginia, as he attempts to recapture the same swing state he narrowly carried in 2008.

The campaign said the president will focus on the "two fundamentally different visions" being debated in the 2012 presidential race, particularly when it comes to finding solutions for the lagging economy.

He'll begin with a speech in Virginia Beach, followed by a visit to Hampton and then Roanoke. The president will return to the White House on Friday night before heading back out to Richmond and Chantilly on Saturday.

While Obama has made frequent stops in neighboring Northern Virginia, the two-day tour marks the president's second campaign trip to the Old Dominion since attending one of his first rallies this cycle in Richmond on May 5. Earlier that day, he held his inaugural campaign rally in Ohio.

The president has a slight margin over Republican opponent Mitt Romney in Virginia, according to a recent Quinnipiac University survey. Obama has the backing of 47% of registered voters, compared to Romney at 42%, the survey indicates. The margin falls within the poll's sampling error.

In 2008, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia since 1964. He defeated Sen. John McCain in the state by six percentage points, 53% to 47%.

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, last visited the commonwealth around the same time as Obama, appearing at a campaign event in Portsmouth on May 3.

"You're going to hear it all right here in Virginia," Romney told the crowd, while standing alongside Gov. Bob McDonnell. "This may well be the state who decides who the next president is."

Similar to some of the other swing states, Virginia's economy fares better than much of the country, with an unemployment rate at 5.6% compared to the national average at 8.2%.

While Virginia receives a heavy amount of federal spending for military purposes–Norfolk is home to the largest naval base in the world–McDonnell argued Friday morning that Obama did not deserve credit for the state's economic status.

Instead, he pointed to other states with relatively stable business climates, highlighting that many of them have Republican governors.

"If it was something President Obama was doing, you'd see that all over the place. And you don't," McDonnell said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

Also weighing in on the president's trip to Virginia, House Speaker John Boehner challenged Obama to outline his proposal to reduce military spending while on the campaign trail. In a post on his website, Boehner asks if Obama will "share with Virginia families his plan to replace the looming defense cuts" set to take place in 2013.

"We hope so, because we sure haven't seen it yet and the president has remained more engaged in his campaign than on addressing the needs of families in states like Virginia," Boehner wrote.

The state is also home to a competitive open Senate race this year between two former governors: Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen.

Kaine will appear with Obama Friday, along with current Democratic Sen. Mark Warner at all three stops. A former Democratic National Committee chairman, Kaine has close ties with Obama and appeared at a private fund-raiser for the president in Virginia in late April.

– CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


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