RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - President Barack Obama is no stranger to Central Virginia, but his next visit to Richmond will be much different. That is because the 2012 campaign is officially underway.
Saturday May 5, the president will make his first two campaign stops in Columbus, Ohio and in Richmond, Virginia, on the campus of VCU.
Republicans have been very critical that the president has used the White House travel budget to visit swing states like Virginia to push his agenda — in fact, the RNC filed a formal complaint to that effect on Wednesday.
But, this trip will be paid for by his campaign, and he won't mince words.
He wants your vote.
It was Barack Obama's loyal volunteers, at his downtown Richmond headquarters who were the first to get the news.
"President Obama will be holding his very first campaign rallies in Columbus, Ohio and the Seigel Center in Richmond," said 'Obama For America Virginia' Field Director Lies Clavel to cheers.
Of the many places the president could've picked for his first campaign rally, he chose two with enormous significance in November — Ohio and Virginia.
"It's recognition that Virginia is a really important state in this election and that it is all up for grabs," said Sai Iyer, a VCU student who has the unique distinction of being the only student national co-chair for the Obama Campaign. He is excited the president is coming to the place where he will graduate from in just two weeks.
"I think it's recognition that Richmond came out in a big way in 2008 and it is going to come out in a big way in 2012," he said.
But Republicans were quick to criticize the announcement and downplay its importance.
Governor Bob McDonnell, a Romney supporter and a potential vice presidential pick, said that all the president is doing his bringing his "failed policies and broken promises to Virginia."
It won't be the first time Barack Obama has given a speech at the Seigel Center. In 2008, he and Hillary Clinton both addressed the Virginia Democratic Jefferson Jackson Dinner. At that time, they were locked in a heated battle for the Democratic nomination.
It will be much different this time: Obama the clear nominee, and a man hoping to remain President of the United States.
We have more details on the president's visit on Decision Virginia.