obama*(Via The Hill) – President Obama launches a bus tour Thursday through two battleground states crucial to his reelection bid.

Obama’s focus during the trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania is the economy, and it begins a day before a critical monthly report on jobs — an event the White House is awaiting with some anxiety after May’s figures fell far short of analysts’ predictions.

The “Betting on America” tour is a nod to the near-certainty that November’s elections will hinge on jobs, housing and other economic indicators despite the recent fervor from both parties over the Supreme Court’s surprise verdict to uphold Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Rather than sitting on his heels for those employment numbers, Obama’s schedule hints at a campaign that wants to get out in front of any bad economic news that might be forthcoming.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said the president will use the tour both to tout his economic recovery efforts and to attack Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, on his record atop Bain Capital, a private equity firm that’s come under fire for buying up struggling companies and streamlining them, often by firing employees.

While some Democrats have criticized Obama’s assault on Bain, Obama and his campaign seem increasingly confident that the strategy will reverberate with voters — particularly white, blue-collar workers of Rust Belt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania — amid an economy where unemployment remains above 8 percent.

A Gallup poll this week found Obama increasing his lead over Romney to 48 percent to 43, something surely noticed at the president’s campaign headquarters in Chicago.

“Throughout the trip, he’ll talk with voters in their communities about what he’s done to bring the economy back from the brink, from investing in manufacturing to doubling down on the American worker to saving the auto industry and encouraging companies to bring jobs back to America,” LaBolt told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.

Read/learn more at The Hill.