Air Force Campaign One

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Air Force One is quickly becoming President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign-bus. Next week, one of the two presidential Boeing 747s is scheduled to carry the president down to North Carolina and then to Florida, both of which are must-wins for his campaign.

The Florida visit was announced today, and followed yesterday’s announcement by the White House that the President will fly to Durham, N.C., on June 13 to meet with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council at Cree Inc., a company that is developing new-generation lights. Today’s announcement revealed the aircraft will next fly to Miami International Airport and depart the next morning.

The White House statement did not say what events are scheduled for Miami, nor if the POTUS and his entourage will be returning to D.C. that day, or jetting off to another location.

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Both North Carolina and Florida are vital pieces of the President’s 2012 victory-map. He won Florida handily in 2008, but the stalled economy, and a possible shift in the Jewish community, presages trouble for 2012. North Carolina voted narrowly for Obama in 2008, but Democrats say a rising share of Latino votes in the state may keep it in his column in 2012, even if the sour economy helps the GOP candidate win other states, such as Indiana and Ohio.

The visit also highlights the president’s CEO-stocked jobs council, and also his increased attention to manufacturing companies. On June 3, Obama visited Chrysler’s auto-plant in Toledo, Ohio, to tout his support for the auto industry, and on June 8, he visited Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus to showcase his support for new industry-backed training programs.

This focus on industry will help boost his rating among manufacturing workers, which have fallen amid the stalled economy. In May, for example, the manufacturing sector lost 5,000 jobs. Similarly, Cree Inc., where the president is slated to visit next week, saw its revenue drop to $219 million in the first three months of 2011. “This represents a 6% decrease compared to revenue of $234.1 million reported for the [same] quarter last year and a 15% decrease” compared to the last three months of 2010, according to a company press release.