“When good policies are good politics, that’s great,’’ said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not an authorized spokesman.
In paying “disproportionate attention to Ohio,’’ Obama “is following in the footsteps of his recent predecessors,’’ said Brendan Doherty, an expert on presidential travel at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Since the Ronald Reagan administration, presidents have been increasingly targeting battleground states. The trend escalated under George W. Bush, who visited Ohio 35 times in his first term, Doherty said.
Obama has framed many key moments in his term in Ohio.
As the administration was distributing stimulus money, the president noted in a 2010 town hall meeting near Cleveland that Ohio “received more funds than just about anybody in order to build on that clean-energy economy.’’
In fact, the state’s portion of the $2.3 billion in clean-energy manufacturing tax credits was tens of millions of dollars more than the slices that went to other swing states.
In high-speed rail, another administration priority, Ohio also fared well. The White House in 2010 awarded the state $400 million to resume passenger train service between Cincinnati, Cleveland and other cities, a service that had ended four decades earlier.
The announcement highlighted nine “major corridor” projects, serving up to 11 states. The only two that benefited a single state were in Ohio and Florida. Both states rejected the money after electing Republican governors.
Administration officials said the tax credit and rail funding were awarded on merit.
In one case, the administration’s fondness for Ohio appeared to lead to a sudden about-face to save jobs. When Obama visited Mansfield in August, media outlets and Republicans in the state pointed out that he would be flying into an Air National Guard base where his budget had proposed cutting a fleet of aircraft and about 800 positions.
By day’s end — after base officials vowed to position the threatened planes so Obama could see them from Air Force One — the White House said it would “find a mission” for the guard unit. A White House spokesman said Monday that Obama remains “absolutely” committed to finding that mission.
Brian Reis, who runs a company making potato chips and other snack food about 100 miles from Cleveland, says he is grateful for the attention.
Reis, a Republican, has received three Small Business Administration loans totaling $3.9 million since Obama took office, along with a $2 million loan during the Bush administration. In August, the agency’s head, Karen Mills, toured his facility for the launch of a kit that allows people to flavor their own gourmet potato chips. Last year, Biden singled him out in a speech near Cleveland.