President Obama will make his third trip in five months to the critical swing state of Ohio on Wednesday, a day after Republicans took their first step toward selecting a rival to challenge him this fall.

In his first public appearance of the new year, Obama is scheduled to speak about the economy at Shaker Heights High School, resuming the national jobs tour he launched last fall. White House aides said the president, in public appearances over the coming weeks, will push for another extension of the payroll tax cut through the end of the year and roll out more in his series of executive actions aimed at spurring job growth.

Obama also will contrast his efforts to boost the economy through his $447 billion American Jobs Act, most of which has not been approved by Congress, with what he has cast as a legislative branch unwilling to rise above partisan gridlock. It is an approach that aides said will define his reelection strategy over the coming months.

The president’s remarks "will be focused on the economy and on what he can do as president to deliver on his promise to do everything he can to help the middle class, grow the economy and create jobs,” press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

Obama’s trips outside Washington also serve a dual purpose of allowing him to essentially begin campaigning for his reelection. Though White House aides described the trips as official business, they often take on the feel of campaign events, with enthusiastic crowds, American flags and bunting and lots of local media attention.

During his jobs tour last fall, the president focused largely on swing states, and he made trips to Columbus and Cincinnati in Ohio. His trip to Cleveland comes a day after GOP voters in Iowa held caucuses in the Republican primary, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney edging former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum by eight votes.

Obama thanked his own supporters in Iowa on Tuesday, addressing Democratic caucus-goers through Internet video.