U.S. President Barack Obama is heading back onto the campaign trail Thursday for a two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, two crucial states in the November general election.
Mr. Obama carried both states in the 2008 election, and recent opinion polls show him holding a narrow lead over his presumptive Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The president will use the campaign swing to portray himself as more of a champion of average, working-class Americans than Mr. Romney, a wealthy businessman before entering politics.
The Obama campaign has begun raising questions about Mr. Romney’s time as head of a private financial investment company, which some critics say invested in companies that moved American jobs overseas.
Mr. Obama’s return to the campaign trail comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his landmark heath care reform law was constitutional. The ruling enraged Republican opponents of the law, especially the key provision that Americans who do not have health insurance must pay a penalty.
Mr. Romney’s campaign initially described the provision, known as the individual mandate, as a penalty, but in a recent interview with CBS News, Mr. Romney himself agreed with other Republicans who called the mandate a tax. Mr. Romney imposed a similar provision in the health care law he enacted during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts.
But the president’s campaign tour could be overshadowed by Friday’s scheduled release of last month’s employment rate. The dismal jobs report from May, which indicated the economy created just 69,000 jobs while unemployment rose slightly to 8.2 percent, was a blow to Mr. Obama’s claims that the U.S. economy had improved since he took office.
A report released earlier this week showed that U.S. manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in nearly three years, which raised new questions about the direction of the economy.