White House denies Obama campaigning in swing states on taxpayer dime

White House spokesman Jay Carney fought back on Monday against allegations that President Obama has visited swing states more than any other president while in office.

A report in The Wall Street Journal on Monday said Obama had opened himself “to criticism from Republicans that he is intertwining campaigning and governing” at events where “the cost is typically born by taxpayers.”

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By the Journal’s count, Obama will log his 56th event in a presidential battleground state this year when he visits Scranton, Pa., on Wednesday to discuss the administration’s jobs bill.

Carney said the logic of the article is flawed because Obama “expanded the political map dramatically,” and states including Virginia and North Carolina, which were not considered battleground states when former president George W. Bush visited them in 2003, are now in play for Democrats.

Carney argued that Bush traveled far more often to the traditional battleground states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, and that it was unfair to count Obama’s visits to states that he “made competitive” for Democrats.

“The suggestion that [Obama] can’t make official travel to any state that is considered contested or close, we reject that,” Carney said.

Carney also rejected the notion Obama’s visits to the swing states were campaign-related, saying the president was getting out of Washington because he has the responsibility to “go out and meet with Americans.”

Carney said the sites for the official visits are “based on the policy issues he is addressing,” and that proximity also “has a lot to do with it,” which is why he makes more frequent trips to Virginia.

“He can’t always go to Mountain States or Plains States or the West Coast,” Carney said. “I think you see a concentration in this time zone.”

“Every president travels to Virginia frequently to hold events,” he added.