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Obama to talk about economy in April visit to Reno

President Barack Obama will visit Reno in April to talk about ways to strengthen the U.S. economy, a White House official said Thursday.

Although the Reno trip has no political focus, Nevada is important for Obama’s re-election efforts in 2012. The state will have the first Democratic caucus in the West in February 2012, after the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Obama overwhelmingly won Nevada in 2008, but he and the Democratic Party apparently are taking nothing for granted.

Having Obama on the 2012 ticket also could help lift other Democrats running for key seats, including retiring U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is running to retain the GOP seat, but he might face tough Democratic competition if Rep. Shelley Berkley gets into the race, or if Democrats recruit another strong candidate.

Nevada’s economy is the worst in the nation with record high unemployment and home foreclosure rates.

Last year, Obama swept through Las Vegas several times to campaign and raise money for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who is Senate majority leader. The high-profile help paid off with Reid defeating Republican Sharron Angle.

Obama didn’t make a stop in Reno in 2010, although Vice President Joe Biden did to campaign for Reid.

The president also plans to stop in San Francisco during his quick Western visit, the White House official said.

No other details of the trip were immediately available.

Obama first rolled out his "winning the future" economic theme during his January State of the Union address. He said the United States must maintain its global leadership and increase its competitiveness to secure prosperity for every American.

The president inherited the start of the recession as he took office after his 2008 election. He’s been struggling since then to turn the economy around, including continuing bank and auto industry bailouts begun under President George W. Bush and opposed by most Republicans.

Obama also won congressional approval of a $787 billion federal stimulus package over GOP objections, which he has argued kept the recession from getting worse.

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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