President Barack Obama is pushing his economic message in Ohio, brandishing his presidential megaphone in a politically important state to make certain his appeal to the middle class is heard amid the boisterous start of the Republican campaign for the White House.

Obama was traveling Wednesday to the most Democratic congressional district in Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, a day after Mitt Romney won Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses by just eight votes. Obama‘s trip signals the White House’s intent to keep the president in the public eye even as the political world focuses on the GOP’s selection process.

The White House‘s choice of Ohio for Obama’s first presidential trip of 2012 underscores the state’s high-profile role in presidential politics. It is a swing state that went for George W. Bush in 2004 and for Obama in 2008. A top manufacturing state, Ohio has seen its jobless rate follow the national pattern; unemployment was 8.5 percent in November compared with 9.6 percent a year before.

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