President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail in Ohio Sunday, a crucial state this year and for the presidet's prospect for second term.
It's the president's 11th trip to the Buckeye State since taking office, and his 7th trip this year, signaling that this crucial state is a must-win both for this midterm election, and the president's prospect for 2012.
The political wisdom is "as Ohio goes, so goes the nation." Ohio, a key swing-state, has not picked a presidential loser since 1960 and is considered a representative slice of American political sentiment at-large.
With the midterm election just more than two weeks away, the president will try to use the first lady's popularity, which is higher than his, and garner support at a rally at Ohio State University in Columbus. Sunday also marks the first time the two have campaigned together since 2008.
The president will try get the university crowd jazzed up about politics after the school suffered a bruising football loss and its No.1 status with an upset win by Wisconsin Saturday night, something that is dominating the newspaper headlines and hearts of fans in the state.
Strickland is behind his Republican challenger and former Congressman (also a former Fox News contributor) John Kasich. Kasich currently holds about a 5-point lead over Strickland.
The governor is struggling to overcome some political hurdles and realities, including Ohio's lagging unemployment, one of the 10 worst in the nation. Nearly 400,000 jobs have been lost since Strickland took office in 2007.
Democrats are hoping Sunday's campaign stops will tap into the president's 2008 victory there. Ohio voted for Obama 51 percent to Sen. John McCain's 46 percent. Strickland is hovering around 45 percent approval, even though he won in 2006 by what was considered a blowout over Republican Ken Blackwell. The president's approval rating has also plummeted in the state, dropping nearly 20-points since 2009.
Kasich served as chair of the budget committee and was part of one of the country's last balanced budgets. But he also worked at Lehman Brothers, a company with a tarnished reputation for its part in the financial collapse two years ago.
Kirsten Powers, Fox News Democratic political analyst points to Ohio's importance for President Obama, "There's high unemployment, [and a] need for him to get up there and fire up the troops and give people hope, it's a tough place for the Democrats."
The big rally strategy is one the White House has taken on in recent weeks, doing large 2008-style events with a backdrop of excited young voters.
Polls have been showing many independents gravitating towards Republicans, and the so-called enthusiasm gap with Democrats less energetic about actually going to the polls. This has cemented a Democratic plan that puts the president's focus on youth voters and African-Americans -- two groups of party-faithfuls they are hoping will make a difference in a year that is heavily favoring a GOP takeover of the House, Republicans making gains in the Senate and many governor's mansions across the nation potentially going red.
Kasich says that Sunday's appearance is a 2012 test for Obama, "He's here because he knows if he loses the governor's office in Ohio, which is ground zero, he's in deep trouble for 2012. They are pulling out all stops, he said on Fox News' "Huckabee" Saturday.
The Republican also called Strickland Obama's "twin." Kasich added he's not running against Strickland or Obama, "This state is in deep trouble. We have historic unemployment, rising poverty, rising hopelessness. Our young people, our entrepreneurs leave."
On the Senate side, the race to fill retiring Sen.Voinovich's seat, appears to be all but locked up for Republican Rob Portman who has a near 20-point lead over Democrat Lee Fisher. Portman is ahead despite having former budget director under President George W. Bush on his resume.
And in House races, there are as many as five seats held by Democrats that could potentially be up for grabs.
The president has been jamming his schedule with campaign events and crisscrossing the country in blue states the White House believes Obama will help.
Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter John Legend, who is also an Ohio native, will perform at the OSU rally. Legend also sang at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 along with other campaign events that year.
Fox News' Amy Wehinger contributed to this report.