President Obama today is making his 24th visit to Ohio as president – the second trip in under a month – an openly political gesture that is costly to taxpayers but potentially of huge benefit to Obama’s reelection prospects.
Polls show the obsessive attention to Ohio may be having an effect. A CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac survey out today puts Obama ahead of Romney by six points in the state, even as other polls show the two virtually even nationally.
According to RealClearPolitics, every poll taken since early July in Ohio has had Obama ahead, with the average lead coming out to just under five percent.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Tuesday for a moment dropped the pretense that Obama’s Ohio sojourns are for official business, sardonically referencing Obama’s political motivation to travel to the state.
“There’s not an inch of Ohio that the president does not love to visit,” Carney said to knowing laughter from the press corps. “It’s a great state.”
Carney has previously sought to challenge the notion that any of Obama’s domestic travel is political – though without exactly denying it – suggesting that the president loves to roam widely throughout the country to visit with the people.
Obama has been similarly omnipresent in other key states, making 19 trips to Florida and sixteen to Pennsylvania, for example.
But Obama is constantly traveling to Ohio because winning the state would make his reelection almost a certainty. Mitt Romney has few paths to victory that don’t go through Ohio.
And getting to the state is easy. It takes the president less than 90 minutes to chopper to Andrews Air Force Base and then breeze into Ohio via Air Force One.
But each trip costs hundreds of thousand of dollars, at least – Air Force One alone costs $179,750 per flight hour – and taxpayers have footed the bill for the vast majority of them.
Even openly political trips to the state to campaign or raise money are only partially paid for by Obama’s campaign.
George W. Bush also engaged in plenty of taxpayer-funded political travel, but this hardly makes the practice less egregious.
Obama’s Ohio journeys likely will only become more commonplace, given the political urgency of winning the state.
Although, Carney did suggest one other possible explanation. It’s “my wife’s home state,” he noted playfully.