POLITICS

Obama Returning To Iowa For Earth Day 2009

Barack Obama will mark Earth Day with a trip to Iowa next week in what will be interpreted in political circles as a victory lap in the state that launched his run to the White House.

Local press in Iowa is reporting that the president will visit the town of Newton on Wednesday, April 22 -- the first presidential visit to that town in more than half a century. The exact details of the visit, reports the Newton Daily News, have not been released.

Obama visited Newton in December 2007, just weeks before winning that state's caucus. He returned to Iowa at various points during the general election including the Friday before Election Day. Sentimentally and politically, the state defined his candidacy -- from the ability to persuade voters to overcome racial divisions to the turning of traditionally Republican locales blue.

Now, as president, Obama still seems willing to use the Hawkeye State as a political backdrop. Newton, a town of roughly 15,000, may seem like a peculiar place to celebrate Earth Day. But as State Senator Dennis Black told the Newton Daily News: "Iowa is No. 2 in the nation in wind energy production... My absolute goal in the legislature is to keep us in no less than that position. It will be difficult to overcome Texas, because they are quite a distance ahead of us. But, we overtook California, so perhaps even Texas someday!"

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