President Obama waves after he talks about the rising costs of student loans at the University of Iowa in Iowa City Wednesday. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Obama will hold the first two public rallies of the campaign, including one at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond May 5. He will be joined by the First Lady Michelle Obama.

The second event will be at the Ohio State University in Columbus that same day.

Obama is no stranger to Virginia, but all of his visits in recent months have been for official businesses, mostly speeches to talk about the economy.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, expected to be the Republican nominee, has appeared in Virginia a handful of times this cycle, but mostly for fundraisers.

In 2008, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia in 44 years, but in the years since, Democrats have lost ground. The GOP now controls all of Richmond and holds a majority of Virginia’s congressional delegation.

Most recent polls show Obama with a slight edge over Romney to win Virginia’s 13 crucial electoral votes.

Romney easily won Virginia’s primary after then candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum failed to qualify.

Obama has already opened 13 campaign offices in the state: Fairfax, Newport News, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, Danville, Virginia Beach, Prince William, Loudoun, Falls Church, Suffolk and Arlington. Richmond is home to the headquarters.

The GOP’s coordinated campaign — dubbed the 2012 Virginia Victory Campaign — has seven offices that have remained open since 2010.

The Obama campaign has dozens of staffers in every region of the state, including Northern Virginia, some of whom have been here for more than two years through Organizing for America, a Democratic National Committee community organizing project. Since the launch of Obama’s reelection campaign last April, volunteers have reached out to over 500,000 Virginians on the phones and at the doors.

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