SANDUSKY, Ohio -- Campaigning by bus through swing state Ohio, President Barack Obama on Thursday cast his re-election bid as a bet on the American worker even as he braced for an unemployment report due out today that will help set battle lines for the hot summer to come.
The unemployment numbers could alter or harden voters' views of Obama's core re-election argument that he pulled the U.S. back from recession while Republican Mitt Romney embraces policies that led to an economic near-collapse. A weak report could undermine Obama's position, while improvement could help the president -- though concerns about jobs are sure to be a major issue through Election Day.
Obama tellingly started his summer of on-the-road campaigning in two political battleground states that have a rosier economic outlook than some other parts of the nation. Both Ohio and Pennsylvania had unemployment rates of 7.3 percent in May, well below the national average, 8.2 percent.
"This is how summer is supposed to feel," Obama said, wiping sweat from his face.
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In northern Ohio, Obama was greeted kindly wherever he went and bounded through his day, high-fiving kids and hugging grandmothers.
In an economic appeal to working-class voters, the president also announced that his administration is launching an unfair-trade complaint against China with the World Trade Organization. The complaint centers on new Chinese duties on American-made cars.