-- Mitt Romney's campaign is working hard to steal President Barack Obama's spotlight this weekend, when the president is set to hold the first major rallies of his 2012 re-election campaign.
At Ohio State University in Columbus, where Obama is set to speak around 1:25 p.m. ET on Saturday, Romney aides are planning to circle the candidate's campaign bus. The campaign will also set up a phone banking operation staffed by Romney supporters and volunteers in a parking lot near the rally site at Ohio State.
The campaign is also planning to dispatch staff and local surrogates to Obama's rally at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where the president is expected to speak at 4:35 p.m. ET.
After both events, Romney supporters will deliver a "response" to the president's remarks.
A Romney aide, who requested anonymity to speak about campaign strategy, said this weekend's efforts are modeled in part after the campaign's "rush the quarterback" game plan in the Republican primaries, when Romney supporters were dispatched to speak to reporters at Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich rallies—much to the annoyance of the rival campaigns.
The Romney aide described this weekend's plans as just the "early stages" of how the campaign plans to target Obama's events, and suggested that the Romney operation will be more "aggressive" in coming months.
"We're just ramping up," the Romney aide told Yahoo News.
Romney's campaign has already begun what the aide describes as its "bracketing" strategy to pit Romney's message against Obama's.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and other Romney supporters will hold a press conference Friday afternoon in Richmond to blast Obama's handling of the economy in advance of Saturday's event.
And Romney published an "open letter" to Obama on the op-ed page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer Friday, arguing that the president is out of his "depth" when it comes to turning the economy around.
"Welcome to Ohio. I have a simple question for you: Where are the jobs?" Romney wrote. "I recognize, of course, as do all Americans, that you inherited an economic crisis. But you've now had three years to turn things around. The record of those three years is clear. Your policies have failed, not only in Ohio, but across the nation."
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