Obama to discuss US recovery in hard-hit Ohio

HONOLULU, December 30, 2011 (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will highlight his plans to speed economic recovery Wednesday in the key state of Ohio -- the day after Republicans hold their first 2012 nominating contest.

Obama will visit the city of Cleveland, deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in Hawaii, where Obama will wrap up his Christmas and New Year vacation early next week.

The president's trip will be seen as another chance to argue that his policies, rather than those pursued by his Republican foes, are most beneficial to the middle class.

Republican candidates face their first contest of the race to take on Obama for the White House in November 2012 on Tuesday, in the Iowa caucuses.

Ohio is seen as a political bellwether state because no Republican has won the White House without capturing the key midwestern industrial battleground, which Obama added to his winning column in 2008.