(CNN) - How important is Ohio to the Obama White House? Vice President Joe Biden heads there Tuesday, the fourth visit to the crucial battleground state by President Barack Obama or Biden since Labor Day. And Obama will be there again on Thursday to lobby for his jobs package.
Ohio’s 18 electoral votes could again be pivotal to the 2012 presidential election. George W. Bush sealed his 2004 re-election by narrowly winning the state over Sen. John Kerry.
In 2008, Obama and Biden took the state by 5 points. But the GOP won big in last year’s midterm elections, taking back the governor's office and five House seats held by Democrats.
Top strategists from both parties believe that Ohio will again be crucial next year.
"Ohio is ground zero for the jobs debate,” GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos said. “If the president is losing Ohio, he is not just losing a state; he is losing the debate on jobs."
And the state is “a microcosm of American swing voters: Reagan Democrats, suburban soccer-moms, and even Up-Tino's - upwardly mobile Latinos - an increasingly important target for both parties," said Castellanos, who was a top media adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and to Romney's 2008 bid but is not taking sides this cycle.
Paul Begala, a top political adviser to former President Bill Clinton and now a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, agreed on how pivotal the state would be.
"Barack Obama picked up 9 states that George W Bush carried in ‘04. If Obama holds Ohio, he can lose the other 8 and still be re-elected. So the stakes in Ohio are enormous," said Begala, who's also a senior adviser to Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, two independent groups launched earlier his year to support Obama's re-election bid.
Biden and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills will visit Wrap-Tite, Inc.., in Solon, Ohio, near Cleveland, a manufacturer and distributor of stretch wrap and other packaging and shipping products. The White House said the firm recently received an SBA loan to assist in the purchase of a new facility that has allowed it to make five new hires and spend $250,000 in equipment purchases over the last year.
Obama on Thursday will use the Brent Spence Bridge as the backdrop for a pitch for his $447 billion jobs bill – a combination of infrastructure spending, tax cuts and aid to state and local governments. The bridge, designated as “functionally obsolete” by the National Bridge Inventory, is on a major trucking route that links the constituencies of the top two Republicans in Congress - House Speaker John Boehner's district in Ohio to Kentucky, home of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Biden was last in Ohio on Labor Day, when he was the main attraction at an AFL-CIO Labor Day event in Cincinnati. Obama was in Columbus last Tuesday to promote his jobs proposals.