HAMPTON, Va. - Seeking to hold on to the state he turned from solidly red to blue, President Obama told Virginia voters tonight that they hold the key to victory in November.
"If I win Virginia, I'm going to get four more years, that I can say with some confidence," the president told supporters in Roanoke.
Obama is spending two days barnstorming the state, touting his economic agenda and reaching out to Virginia's military families as he promotes himself as a defender of the middle class and rival Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire.
In 2008, Obama ended decades of Republican domination in Virginia, when he became the first Democratic candidate to carry the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
"Here we are again, Virginia. The eyes of the nation are going to be on us again," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said ahead of the president's remarks this evening. "In 2008, we changed the guard. In 2012 we're going to guard the change."
While Obama won Virginia by a 53 to 46 margin over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., four years ago, the president and Romney are expected to fiercely compete for the state's 13 Electoral College votes come November.
"This is going to be critical real estate in this national battle to re-elect President Obama, and we're going to win that battle just like we did in 2008, just like we surprised folks," former governor and Senate candidate Tim Kaine said earlier today in Virginia Beach. "A lot of folks didn't think Virginia was competitive. They learned otherwise."
In addition to speaking at five campaign events over his two-day swing, the president is also making frequent impromptu stops to speak directly to voters as he kicks up his retail campaigning. Today, he stopped at a Virginia Beach restaurant to chat with military wives and later dropped by the local VFW in Phoebus, Va.
"I'm serious, I'm going to get some votes down here," the president told the crowd of more than 3,000 at a fire house in Roanoke, Va. "I promise you, we will finish what we started."