While Republican presidential candidates target early-voting states, President Barack Obama’s team is laying the groundwork for a 50-state campaign strategy it hopes will secure another White House win in 2012.

From the traditional “swing” states of Florida and Ohio to a typically Republican-leaning states like Arizona and Georgia, Democrat Obama’s political supporters are opening offices, engaging voters and rallying volunteers to create a nationwide network, even in areas unfriendly to their candidate’s cause.

The strategy is similar to Obama’s successful 2008 campaign, but it is still unorthodox.

To win the White House, traditional presidential campaigns focus their attention on a handful of states that typically swing between Republican and Democratic candidates, working to earn at least 270 of the states’ 538 “electoral votes” that determine the ultimate winner.

“People in Washington like to second guess us on this and say, ‘you ought to go back to (focusing on) the 15 or 20 states and why do you have a Idaho state director and why do you have a Utah state director?'” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, referring to Republican western strongholds.

“The fact is, we have supporters there who want to get involved in the campaign, and they ought to be able to get involved,” he said in an interview in his Chicago office.

The campaign needs nationwide involvement.

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