- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - President Barack Obama’s Friday stop in Indiana to trumpet his administration’s efforts to boost the nation’s manufacturing sector will be his first such trip to the state in more than three years following a flurry of visits early in his presidency.

Obama visited Indiana three times in 2009, his first year in office, and once in 2010. But Friday’s presidential stop at a steel processor in southwestern Indiana to mark Manufacturing Day will be his first Hoosier visit since a May 2011 stop at an Indianapolis auto transmission plant.

Obama had plenty of reasons during his first term to visit the state to highlight the plight of northern Indiana’s recreational vehicle industry and later the state’s rebounding auto industry, said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne.

But Indiana has in recent years been an unsuitable backdrop for Obama’s visits because the state’s elected leaders are mostly opposed to his health care law and other policies, Downs said. Indiana has a Republican governor and large GOP majorities in the legislature.

“We’re not exactly the place to come to talk about the Affordable Care Act when you have a governor and large, in fact majority, chunks of the General Assembly opposed to that idea,” Downs said. “It would be kind of hard to find a place where you could do that sort of thing here.”

Kip Tew, who was Obama’s top Indiana campaign adviser in 2008, said the president’s stops in the state during his first term focused largely on his administration’s steps to boost the automotive industry during and after the financial crisis.

Obama didn’t visit Indiana during his 2012 re-election campaign because unlike in 2008 - when he became the first Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to carry Indiana - his campaign deemed his chances of winning Indiana again as poor.

“He made the correct calculation that his chances were low and that he had to spend time other places to ensure victory,” Tew said, referring to Republican Mitt Romney’s easy win over Obama in Indiana in 2012 even as the president won re-election.

Obama’s Friday trip will take him to Millennium Steel Service LLC, a minority-owned steel processing plant near Princeton that supplies processed steel for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, which employs 4,700 workers near Princeton. Millennium Steel is a joint venture with Toyota.

The president’s visit follows a Thursday trip to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he laid claim to the nation’s economic recovery.

Indiana Manufacturers Association President Patrick Kiely, a former Republican lawmaker, said Obama’s visit will bring him into Indiana’s coal-mining country and close to two of the state’s larger coal-fired power plants.

Kiely said recent federal regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions from such plants are extremely unpopular in Indiana, which gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal power plants.

“This is the wrong state to show up in. You just can’t turn this thing off after decades of what you’ve been doing and do it in a tight time-frame,” he said. “I hope the president learns something and actually takes it back to Washington with him and tries to do something about it.”

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