President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCutting through the noise of COVID risk: Real-life consequences of oversimplification Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens U.S. prestige Appeasement doesn't work as American foreign policy MORE flew to the battleground state of Ohio on Friday, where elections in the economically troubled state will help determine the makeup of Congress.
Ohio is one of the states hit hardest by the nation's recession, and Obama is emphasizing the economy and job creation at a town hall event in Elyria.
It’s the second stop on the president's “Main Street Tour,” which will take him through some of the most economically stressed — and politically important — regions of the country. The tour kicked off last month in Allentown, Pa.
The presidential visit comes as Ohio’s Democratic governor is facing a tough reelection battle. Gov. Ted Strickland was swept into office in the Democratic tide of 2006, but since then the economy in Ohio has remained stagnant.
The Buckeye State is grappling with a budget crisis and unemployment has reached 10.9 percent. Strickland is expected to face John Kasich, a former Republican congressman who also worked for Fox News Channel and Lehman Brothers, in the general election. Kasich has led Strickland in some recent polls.
Still, Strickland sounds upbeat about his chances in November.
"I wouldn't say it's gone wrong with me politically. I am dealing with a recession that obviously was not of my own making. But I am responsible for managing the affairs of Ohio as we move through this recession and get to recovery. Quite frankly, some of our own internal polls are not as negative as those that have been published," he told The Atlantic last week.
Ohio is considered a battleground state in part because it's on the frontline of the 2012 redistricting fight. The state is expected to lose two of its 18 congressional seats during reapportionment after the Census is complete, and whichever party holds the governor’s mansion will have leverage.
The governor is one five members of the state’s Apportionment Board, which redraws the state’s congressional and legislative districts. The plan ultimately has to be approved by the state Legislature and then signed by the governor.
The governor can use the threat of a veto to influence the way the Legislature draws up the new districts, said Douglas Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute who studies redistricting. “Veto power gives them negotiating power.”
Should Ohio swing Republican in 2010, it could also spell trouble for Obama's 2012 reelection bid.
For weeks, White House officials have hinted that the administration would "pivot" back to a focus on jobs as soon as healthcare was complete. With health reform legislation now in danger, the fate of that strategy is now uncertain.
The president's stop in Lorain County on Friday will hit all the administration's normal talking points on the economy.
Obama, for example, will tour a wind turbine manufacturing center, where he'll likely tout the promise of "green jobs." He will also make stops at various local businesses on his way to a town hall session at Lorain County Community College in Elyria.