Obama escalates election fight in Ohio, Virginia


President Barack Obama greets the crowd after a ceremony to honor the NCAA College football BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide, Thursday, April 19, 2012, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- He's been in campaign mode for months, but President Barack Obama makes his quest for a second term official with rallies Saturday in Ohio and Virginia. He'll be casting Republican rival Mitt Romney as a flip-flopping protector of the rich.

The events at two universities, Ohio State and Virginia Commonwealth, are billed as the official kickoff of Obama's re-election bid, even though he's been solidly engaged in his campaign. He filed the necessary paperwork to seek re-election over a year ago.

During the stops, Obama wants to convince voters that his policies have put the economy on more solid footing despite fresh evidence the job market remains weak. He's also expected to try to define Romney as a candidate peddling failed policies for the economy and national security.

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