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In Ohio, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows that Mr. Romney has pulled into a virtual tie with Mr. Obama after trailing by six points in late March. The survey now has Mr. Obama at 44 percent and Mr. Romney at 42 percent, well within the poll’s 2.9 percent margin of error.

Pollster Peter Brown attributed Mr. Romney’s improved showing in Ohio to his win in the Republican nominating race and to continued concern about the economy.

“Voter optimism about the economy has leveled off,” Mr. Brown said.

The same poll showed Mr. Romney in a virtual tie with the president in another critical battleground state, Florida (the Republican leads, 44 to 43 percent), after trailing Mr. Obama there by 7 points in late March. In Pennsylvania, another state Mr. Obama won four years ago, the president has expanded his lead over Mr. Romney from 3 percentage points to 8, 47 to 39 percent.

Republican officials were critical of the notion that Mr. Obama is “starting” his campaign this weekend, arguing that he has been making campaign-style appearances in battleground states under the cover of official business for about a year.

“I think we all know he’s been campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime for over a year now,” Mr. Priebus said.

White House officials say they have followed the rules scrupulously for the campaign reimbursing the government for political travel. But Generation Opportunity conducted a study that found administration officials have held more than 240 youth-oriented events at taxpayer expense in the past year on college campuses and other locations around the country, often in battleground states.

The events have targeted 18-to-29-year-olds, not just college students, the group said.

“What they’ve tried to do, in our opinion, is tailor their operations across government to make certain their surrogates are dispatched in a targeted and coordinated manner to shore up this particular constituency of 18 to 29, especially college-educated,” said Mr. Conway, who has served in four administrations, most recently under Republican George W. Bush.

Other administrations have used official government travel and expenses to promote policies with a political agenda in mind. But Mr. Conway said the Obama administration is taking it to another level.

“What’s different on this one is the size and scope in going after a specific demographic of voters,” he said. “The American taxpayer has already footed the bill for a yearlong campaign targeted to the 18-to-29-year-olds on at least 130 college campuses.”