By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Trying to steal some of the spotlight, President Barack Obama plans to campaign in three battleground states next week as Republicans gather in Florida to nominate presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Obama's campaign said Wednesday the president would hold college-themed events in Ames, Iowa, and Fort Collins, Colo., on Tuesday, the second day of the Republican convention. Obama was traveling to Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday for a rally that will come hours before Rep. Paul Ryan's convention address.
Vice President Joe Biden was to visit Florida on Monday and Tuesday, including a stop in Tampa, the site of the GOP convention. First lady Michelle Obama, meanwhile, was scheduled to appear on "The Late Show with David Letterman" on the GOP convention's third night as part of a back-to-school media tour. Her late-night TV appearance that Wednesday will air shortly after Ryan's address and ahead of Romney's convention speech the following evening.
Presidential candidates have typically kept a low profile during the conventions of their opponents, but that has changed in recent years. During the 2008 Republican National Convention, for example, Obama campaigned in Ohio and Pennsylvania while Biden courted voters in Florida and Virginia.
By staying on the road, Obama and Biden will be able to offer a counterpoint to Republicans during their convention, which is considered an important opportunity for the GOP to introduce Romney before a national audience. Romney officials said the former Massachusetts governor was expected to hold events during the Democratic National Convention, which begins in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4. The places he'll visit have not been announced.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president, first lady and Biden would be "laying out the choice the American people are facing in November, cutting through some of the political chatter." She said that by sending Biden to the city where Republicans will hold their convention, "he's going to the belly of the beast."
Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden told reporters Wednesday that Biden's trip was aimed at distracting from the Democrats' economic record. He said the vice president's presence in Florida will help Republicans draw a contrast between the parties' economic visions for the country.
Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.
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