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President Obama plans to carry a new message on his road trip across Iowa this week, aimed at linking the Republican candidate for president with the budgetary views of his new running mate.
An advisor to the president said the Obama campaign will work in Iowa to tie Mitt Romney to the budget of Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, author of the controversial House GOP plan to shrink the federal government and recraft the Medicare health program for seniors.
Obama advanced the strategy during a series of fundraisers in Chicago over the weekend. He criticized what he said was the Republican idea of growing the economy "from the top down," benefiting the wealthy first and hoping the prosperity trickles down to everyone else.
"This kind of top-down economics is central to Gov. Romney," Obama said Sunday, "and it is central to his running mate."
In the two days since Romney announced his choice of Ryan, he has put a bit of distance between his budget ideas and those of his running mate.
“I have my budget plan,” Romney said Sunday during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “And that’s the budget plan we’re going to run on.”
But the Obama campaign sees its first task as knitting Romney and Ryan together and contrasting the competing visions for America.
Voters will hear that message again and again over the next three days as Obama makes his way from western Iowa to the eastern border, hitting several towns and counties that did not vote for him in 2008. It will be the longest stretch of campaigning for Obama in any single state since the presidential campaign began, befitting a state that launched his presidency by handing him victory in the 2008 caucuses. (On Monday, in a quirk of scheduling, Ryan will be in Des Moines at a state fair campaign stop.)
Though he carried the state by more than 9 points, Obama has watched his popularity slide during four years of economic hardship and a vigorous Republican fight in the Iowa caucuses.
Iowa offers six electoral votes – a relatively small number, but no small matter in such a tight election. Obama is set to start his tour Monday in Council Bluffs, in which the media market reaches into north Omaha, where he picked up a single electoral vote last time around. Nebraska awards its electoral votes based on regional voting, not winner-take-all.
Obama is also expected to deliver remarks at a grass-roots event in Boone, Iowa, before the end of the day. In between, he is likely to make some unannounced stops at diners, cafes or public parks, key features of the campaign bus tour.