WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will return to Las Vegas next week. It will be his second trip in three months to Nevada, a state he is counting on to support his re-election.
Obama will spend next Wednesday evening and part of Thursday in Southern Nevada, White House and Democratic Party officials said.
The stopover is part of a three-day swing where he is expected to expand on themes he will raise in his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation on Tuesday night.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama will visit Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, flying then to the Phoenix area and to Las Vegas that evening.
Obama will have events in Las Vegas and Denver next Thursday and spend the night in Detroit before delivering a speech in the Michigan city on Jan 27, Carney said.
A White House official said details will be available closer to the travel dates.
Carney said Obama will discuss “economic growth and job creation” during his televised speech, “and it will be a topic that he discusses on the road both after the State of the Union and beyond.”
While in Las Vegas, it’s expected Obama will bring up a new policy to boost U.S. tourism, an initiative he is scheduled to unveil today at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
While Obama’s post-State of the Union trip is being planned as official business, Republicans charged its political purpose is thinly veiled.
“When his focus should be on jobs for struggling Americans, it’s clear President Obama has abandoned governing and is in complete campaign mode with one thing in mind, saving his own job,” said Ryan Mahoney, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
“Instead of campaign stops in battleground states, Barack Obama should be more focused on getting our economy back on track and putting the millions of unemployed back to work,” Mahoney said.
Obama’s attentiveness underscores Nevada’s status as a swing state in this year’s presidential election. The visit next week will be the president’s sixth stopover to Las Vegas — plus once to Reno — since being elected. First lady Michelle Obama also has been to Las Vegas twice.
Also, Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Reno today to talk about college affordability at Galena High School.
The visits by Biden and Obama come on opposite ends of the Nevada Democratic Party’s presidential caucus on Saturday.
Obama won Nevada by 12.5 percentage points in 2008. But a poll analysis conducted this month by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, indicated he has lost ground in the Silver State and is tied with Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney heading in 2012.
Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian contended Wednesday that Biden was being dispatched to Reno to “rescue” the Democratic ticket after the GOP has enjoyed a registration lead in Washoe County, a swing area, in recent months.
In a number of battleground states including Nevada, Republicans contend they are narrowing a gap in registered voters or increasing a lead.
According to Nevada voter registration figures released last week, Democrats continue to enjoy an advantage with 447,000 active voters compared with 396,000 for Republicans.
But the Democratic advantage had been much larger. Election officials reviewing Clark County registrations in November and December removed a net 56,800 Democrats from the active rolls. Voters are declared inactive when they don’t provide updated addresses after a move.
Obama last was in Southern Nevada on Oct. 24, holding a fundraiser at the Bellagio and visiting a family home in east Las Vegas to coincide with the announcement of an expanded federal program aimed at homeowners hard hit by the mortgage crisis.
Review-Journal researcher Brian Gaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.