From msnbc.com's Carrie Dann
Barack Obama's home state of Illinois may be just across the river from the southeastern Iowa counties he will visit this afternoon, but the Hawkeye State is probably starting to feel pretty familiar to the president as well.
Today's swing through the nation's first caucus state will be Obama's third since becoming president. He visited Iowa City in March to tout the freshly signed health-care bill, and he hit the city of Newton in central Iowa last year to celebrate Earth Day.
And that's on top of more than 175 public appearances that Obama made in the state while campaigning for the Jan. 3 Democratic caucuses, according to records kept by the Iowa Democratic Party.
On today's economy-themed trip, he'll make three stops in southeastern Iowa: in Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, and Ft. Madison. The three counties he plans to stop in are familiar territory for the one-time upstart presidential candidate. The IDP's caucus tally shows that Obama stopped in Lee County twice in 2007 while campaigning in the state, appeared in Henry County's Mount Pleasant once, and made two public appearances in Wapello County's Ottumwa.
(That investment paid off in the form of a caucus victory for Obama in only one of the three counties: Henry. Hillary Clinton pulled in the most support in Lee County, the southernmost in the state. John Edwards -- who appeared twice for community meetings at the same community college where Obama will hold a town hall meeting today -- won in Wapello. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won all three counties on Jan. 3 in the Republican caucuses.)