Washington (CNN) - It's the state that launched him towards the White House. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama returns to Iowa for the third time since his inauguration as president - and the second time in the past month - to talk about the economy as part of his "White House to Main Street" tour.
The president's scheduled to tour the Siemens Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing plant in Fort Madison, in the southeastern part of the state, and then speak to workers at the plant about the economy and job creation. Obama then heads about 35 miles north to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa to tour a local business. Later the president holds a town hall at the Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.
At each stop, Obama will meet with workers, farmers, small-business owners, and local leaders "to share ideas for continuing to grow the economy and to put Americans back to work," the White House said in a statement.
It was just a month ago that Obama spoke at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, to tout the health care reform bill that he had just signed into law. In May 2007, then-presidential candidate Obama first unveiled his health care plan in Iowa that the White House says "launched a grassroots campaign for reform that led directly to the legislation passed" by Congress last month.
Obama made his first trip as president to Iowa on April 22 of last year. He marked Earth Day in Newton, Iowa by announcing a new initiative to lease federal waters for the purpose of generating electricity from wind and ocean currents.
Obama's victory in January 2008 in his party's Iowa caucuses boosted him into front-runner status along with Hillary Clinton in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination - a fight he ultimately won when Clinton dropped out in June of that year. Obama ended up winning the state by 10 points - a switch in fortunes for the Democrats from only four years earlier when President George W. Bush narrowly won the state.
But the political climate has changed for the president and for the Democrats since those heady days of 2008. Iowans are now divided on the job Obama's doing in the White House. According to a KCCI-Research 2000 poll conducted two months ago, 49 percent of Iowans approved of the president's performance in office, with 46 percent saying they disapprove. The same survey indicated that 35 percent of Iowa voters thought the country was headed in the right direction, with six in 10 saying it was headed the wrong way.
This two-day three-state swing will also take the president to neighboring Missouri and Illinois, home to two hot Senate races this year. In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the Democratic candidate, will appear at Obama's Wednesday event at a ethanol plant in Macon, in the north-central part of the state. Carnahan, locked in a battle against Republican Rep. Roy Blunt for the seat of retiring Republican Christopher Bond, was in the nation's capitol last month, when Obama last visited Missouri.
Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic Senate candidate in his state, says he'll appear at the president's event in Quincy Wednesday. Giannoulias is facing off against Republican Rep. Mark Kirk for the Senate seat once held by Obama and now by Roland Burris, who is not running for a full term in office. Giannoulias has seen his bid for the Senate rocked by the controversy over his family's bank, which was taken over by federal regulators last week.
The White House says this is not a political trip, but the president will speak about the economy, the top topic on the minds of American voters, in campaign like settings. The tour also comes just over six months before this year's crucial midterm elections. With unemployment hovering just below double digits, the Democrats will try to defend their large majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and their smaller advantage in controlling governorships.
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