ABC News' Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:
Following a rush of Republican presidential candidates to descend on Iowa, President Obama will travel to the first-in-the-nation caucus state today to continue his manufacturing jobs push.
While the White House maintains Obama is visiting Iowa to focus on the economy, not politics, the timing of his visit is hard to ignore.
Just yesterday, Michele Bachmann announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, saying “we can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama.”
Rumored GOP candidate Sarah Palin is scheduled to spend today in the Hawkeye state as well.
“Iowa is clearly a special place for the president,” White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki told reporters Monday when asked about the timing of the president’s visit. “He spent a significant amount of time there and really got to know many people across the state very well when he was running.”
Psaki also noted that Iowa is facing the same kinds of economic challenges that the rest of the country is dealing with and that manufacturing is a key industry in the state.
“He’s going to really focus his visit on talking about the growth of manufacturing, how it’s key to the quad cities and the economy and the community there, and will probably leave the politics and the campaigning to the Republicans running in the… caucus,” she said.
During his visit Obama will tour the facility and deliver remarks to workers at Alcoa, which is one of the partners in the “American Manufacturing Partnership” that he announced last week.
The president will likely highlight the company’s advanced manufacturing and “highly skilled” workforce, which, according to the White House, is paid higher than average wages.
"What it demonstrates is that the American manufacturing sector is alive and well," said Ron Bloom, assistant to the president for manufacturing policy. "He sees manufacturing as part of the American future."