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Campaigner in chief hits the trail

  • Story Highlights
  • New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is fighting for re-election this year
  • Rally for Corzine marks Obama's first campaign event since becoming president
  • Biden heads to Virginia, the other state with a gubernatorial election this year
By Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama hits the campaign trail Thursday -- not for himself, but for fellow Democrat Jon Corzine.

President Obama campaigns Thursday for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.

President Obama campaigns Thursday for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.

The president is the main attraction at a rally in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, for Gov. Corzine, who's fighting for re-election this year.

While Obama has headlined seven political fundraising events this year, this will be the first campaign rally he's attended for a fellow Democrat since taking over as president in January.

A poll of New Jersey voters released this week suggests Corzine trails Republican challenger Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, by 12 points. The same Quinnipiac University survey indicates that six out of 10 Garden State voters approve of the job Obama's doing as president.

The rally was originally scheduled to be held at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, but the Corzine campaign says the event was moved to an outdoor amphitheater to accommodate a crowd larger than originally expected.

"The president looks to Gov. Corzine as a friend, somebody who was head of the campaign committee for Senate Democrats when he was running in 2004," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

Gibbs also noted that the president "has some affection for the fact that Mr. Corzine was a basketball player at the University of Illinois, and somebody that he spent time campaigning for originally for the job in 2005, thinks he's doing a good job, and should be re-elected."

Obama is also scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Corzine and to make appearances at small fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee in New Jersey and New York City.

While the president's in New Jersey, Vice President Joe Biden is headed to Virginia, the other state holding a gubernatorial election this year.

Biden will headline a fundraiser Thursday in Virginia for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, a state senator who's locked in what polls suggest is a dead heat with Republican candidate Bob McDonnell, the former state attorney general. Virginia's incumbent governor, Tim Kaine, is term-limited and can't run for re-election.

Both gubernatorial contests will focus on state issues and the strengths of the candidates. But since both seats are currently held by the Democrats, national Republicans would like to make both races a referendum on Obama and the Democratic Party.

All About Barack ObamaJon CorzineJoseph Biden

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