The White House on Monday pushed back against a report that President Obama’s official visits to swing states have surpassed other presidents’ records.
When President Obama touches down in Scranton, Pa. on Wednesday to call for an extension of a payroll tax cut as planned on Wednesday, it will be his 56th event in a presidential battleground state this year, more than George W. Bush’s swing-state travel in 2003, as well as Bill Clinton’s in 1993, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Obama’s recent travel to tout his jobs package has critics crying foul.
The trips, many of them to swing states — the president ventured into the GOP primary territory of New Hampshire just last week — are deemed official travel and paid for with tax dollars.
But with the 2012 re-election campaign already in full swing, it’s difficult to separate the official from the political, and critics argue that his campaign should be picking up at least part of the tab.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said travel to nearby Virginia and North Carolina, states that were considered reliably red before Mr. Obama’s 2008 victory, shouldn’t count in any analysis of swing-state travel because they are so close to Washington, D.C.
“I reject the premise of that precisely because what happened in 2008 was Barack Obama, then-Senator Obama, expanded the political map dramatically,” Mr. Carney told reporters during Monday’s briefing. “And what is included in this article and in this chart is Virginia, for example. Now, every president who’s occupied the Oval Office, just a few short minutes across the river from Virginia, travels to Virginia frequently to hold events.”
When those two sates are excluded, Mr. Bush actually travelled to more battleground states than Mr. Obama, Mr. Carney asserted.
“If every president, whether it’s President Obama or his successor or any successor after that, were to simply say, oh, I can’t travel to any state that might be contested in the next election, then the president would have to spend most of his time here in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Carney continued.
“And I don’t think that any president should do that. Presidents should travel, and they should be able to get out and speak to the American people about their substantive agendas, and that’s what this president has been doing.”