President Barack Obama will tour western Pennsylvania and portions of Ohio later this week, urging voters in the two key states to compare his record with that of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“He’ll lay out the choice facing voters in November — two contrasting economic visions,” said Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the campaign. “Throughout the trip he’ll talk with voters about what he’s done to bring the economy back from the brink.”
It will be the president’s first bus tour — dubbed “Betting on America” — of the campaign.
LaBolt announced details of Obama’s bus tour on Tuesday in a teleconference with reporters. During the course of the two-day tour, the president will make three stops in Ohio — at Maumee, near Toledo, in Sandusky and Parma, a suburb of Cleveland, on Thursday and one in Pennsylvania on Friday with a visit to Pittsburgh.
Voters in both areas are crucial to an Obama victory. Ohio and Pennsylvania have 38 electoral votes between them. Pennsylvania has 20 and Ohio has 18.
Both areas are part of what is called the Rust Belt, areas that were once thriving centers of manufacturing that have declined with loss of manufacturing jobs.
“Four years ago, then Sen. Obama came to Pittsburgh and promised strengthened American manufacturing — and once we elected him, he kept that promise,” said Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
Last month, Romney made a similar tour.
And two Pennsylvania Republicans were quick to jump on the president this week as news that he would be touring hit the press.
Senators Pat Toomey and Rob Portman accused Obama of a “promise gap.”
“A promise gap: a clear and demonstrable difference between what the president promised to voters and what he actually delivered,” said the two senators in an open letter distributed by the Romney campaign. “He made a promise on nearly every critical issue of the day — employment, energy, healthcare, housing, and the deficit — that our lives would be better off today if his policies were enacted.”
As the two presidential candidates swing through the two states, a new Quinnipiac Poll gave Obama an edge over Romney in both. In Pennsylvania, Obama leads Romney 45 percent to 39 percent; and in Ohio, the president is ahead 47 percent to 38 percent, according to the poll.
“If he can keep those leads in these key swing states through Election Day, he would be virtually assured of re-election,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
According to the Associated Press, Obama aides consider Ohio a toss-up state, but believe Pennsylvania is leaning in the president's favor.
Though Romney’s tour did reach into southeastern Pennsylvania, Obama will not be touring the eastern part of the state during this tour. However, his campaign was opening a new campaign office in West Philadelphia Tuesday evening with Mayor Michael Nutter and Councilman Curtis Jones on hand for an official ribbon cutting.