WASHINGTON -- Nevada's standing as both a clean energy state and one of the principal 2012 political battlegrounds has earned it yet another visit from President Barack Obama next week.
Making his third trip to Southern Nevada since October, Obama on Wednesday plans to make the Copper Mountain Solar One site in Boulder City the backdrop for a speech on energy, White House officials said Friday.
It will be the first stop on a two-day, four-state swing designed for Obama to highlight segments of his "all of the above" strategy to boost U.S. production. The official trip comes at a time when he is under fire by Republicans for rising gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon.
While White House officials said it is not a campaign visit, the Nevada event will keep Obama front and center in a state that the figures prominently in his calculus to win re-election in November.
With this stopover, the president will have visited Southern Nevada seven times since he was elected, and he has been to Reno once as well. Obama's re-election drive in Nevada is taking shape in other areas.
On Friday, his Nevada campaign launched a Nurses for Obama effort in advance of next Friday's second anniversary of enactment of his signature health care reform.
Republicans, meanwhile, were scoffing at Obama's latest planned trip outside the Beltway. At the same time, they were organizing fresh pushback against the health care law.
At Solar One, Obama plans to highlight his administration's efforts to expand energy from renewable sources. The government gave Sempra Generation about $42 million in federal tax credits that helped build the 48-megawatt plant on 380 acres in Eldorado Valley.
The 775,000-panel array is the largest photovoltaic facility in the nation, with the capacity to power about 14,000 homes. It also generates annual lease payments to Boulder City. Solar One, which went online in December 2010, created 350 jobs during construction, but only a half dozen permanent ones.
Republicans charged Friday that by going to Nevada and talking about energy, Obama is trying to distract from the state's still cloudy jobs picture.
"It's a slap in the face to Nevadans that President Obama would come to the state hit hardest by his failed economic policies and talk about anything other than how he would get people back to work," said Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman.
Obama also will stop in Carlsbad, N.M., on Wednesday before traveling to Cushing, Okla., and Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday. In New Mexico, Obama will visit an area of active oil and gas drilling on federal land. In Oklahoma, Obama is expected to speak about the Keystone Pipeline at a storage yard for equipment being used for the oil project.
On his final stop, he will discuss energy research at Ohio State University, White House officials said. While the president will be talking about energy, his supporters and critics will be sparring anew over health care.