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Obama to Play Defense on Upcoming Bus Tour

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Obama for America announced Tuesday a two-day bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio, which will take the president across some friendly turf; not only did Obama win those two states in 2008, he'll stop in counties that supported him.

On Thursday, Obama will traverse the northern region of Ohio, a Democratic stronghold. On Friday, he'll visit Pittsburgh, a Democratic outpost in traditionally red Western Pennsylvania.

Obama will stop in Toledo, Ohio, in a county where he defeated John McCain by 31 percentage points; in Sandusky, Ohio, where he won by four percentage points; in Cleveland, where he won by 39 percentage points; and in Pittsburgh, where he won by 15 percentage points in 2008. In all, Obama carried the total vote in these four counties by 27 percentage points.

In mid-June, Romney's five-day bus tour swung through New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan, all Obama states in 2008. In the 15 counties Romney visited--including major Obama strongholds in Madison, Wis., and Davenport, Iowa--Obama carried the total vote by five percentage points. Counting all votes cast, Obama defeated McCain 50 percent to 45 percent in Romney's bus-tour counties.

"We're certainly campaigning on their turf," Romney strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters the day the tour began.

Why did Obama's campaign choose such friendly territory? A campaign official explained the stops as "still-critical towns and markets," and in Pennsylvania, Obama will reach voters who opposed him last time, as Pittsburgh's media market covers surrounding counties that all voted for McCain. Pennsylvania's Democratic counties surround Philadelphia, the state's southeastern region.

But in Ohio, Obama will largely seek to energize and solidify his 2008 base. The tour will take Obama across the northern part of the state, where every county east of Toledo backed him last time.

Ohio is among a handful of swing states Obama won in 2008 and is struggling to hold. In 2008, Obama defeated John McCain 52 percent to 47 percent in Ohio, but he registered only 42 percent approval there in 2011, according to a January state-approval-rating report by Gallup. When Quinnipiac University polled there in May, Ohio rated as a statistical tie, with Obama leading Romney 45 percent to 44 percent.

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