November 22nd, 2011
10:25 AM ET
(CNN) – When presidential candidates head to New Hampshire the November before an election year, it’s a pretty safe bet the upcoming campaign is on their minds.
But that’s not the case with President Obama, who travels to Manchester later today, White House spokesman Jay Carney insists. In fact, Carney maintained the quick trip north has nothing to do with 2012 at all. Rather, the visit is merely a continuation of the series of stops the president has made across the country since September to sell his jobs bill.
“He travels all over the country, to different parts of the country, to speak about his ideas for getting this economy growing again,” Carney told reporters Monday.
Still, the symbolism could not be clearer. On a day when the Republican presidential field heads to Obama’s neck of the woods for a CNN-sponsored debate in Washington, the president is making a conspicuous appearance on the same turf Republican hopefuls have tracked across for months.
“I can predict with all confidence that the President will win the New Hampshire primary in the Democratic Party,” Carney jabbed.
Still, there’s reason for the president to worry about the Granite State – a place where voters pay close attention to presidential politics and often foreshadow broader national trends. There, Obama’s approval rating stands at 40 percent – below the national average – and, according to a recent Bloomberg poll, he loses by 10 points in a head-to-head matchup to Mitt Romney.
This is Obama’s first visit to New Hampshire in 8 months and he’s only been to the state twice as president. The state perennially flip-flops between supporting Republicans and Democrats in general elections: Obama won it by 9 points in 2008 while Sen. John Kerry won it by 1 point four years earlier. Meanwhile former President George W. Bush narrowly carried the state over over Gore in 2000.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and a frontrunner in the Republican race, just so happened to release his first television ad the day Obama is paying a visit to New Hampshire.
“When then-candidate Barack Obama went to New Hampshire in 2008, he promised to turn around the economy. Three years later, it is clear that he has failed,” Romney’s campaign said.
Translation: Despite what the White House says, Obama will have a hard time escaping 2012 politics today.