He’s visited steel mills in Indiana and movie studios in California, an oil spill in in Louisiana and a landslide in Washington state, military bases from New Jersey to Texas, even Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
When President Barack Obama speaks at Hill Air Force Base in Utah on Friday, he’ll have traveled to 49 states as president, nearly reaching his goal of stopping in every single one during his eight years in office.
After this week, South Dakota will remain the only state unvisited by the commander in chief, though Obama’s aides say he’s gunning to reach all 50 by the end of his term.
“We’d always love to have him,” said former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, who shared a stage with Obama in Massachusetts on Monday at the opening of an institute dedicated to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Noting that Obama visited Mount Rushmore, located in South Dakota, as a candidate in 2008 – but hasn’t returned since – Daschle said the demands of the President’s schedule had probably prevented him from making a stop while in office, though he had some suggestions for potential venues.
“I think it would be great if he could visit an Indian reservation. We have nine of them. I think he’d get a warm welcome, to say the least,” Daschle said. Obama did visit an Indian reservation last year, but it was in North Dakota, not South.
South Dakota, though not on Obama’s presidential itinerary, did play an important role getting him to the White House. It was after the state’s primary in 2008 that Obama officially clinched the Democratic nomination; while Hillary Clinton won South Dakota, the number of delegates Obama took from his second-place finish put him over the nomination threshold.
Bill Clinton visited the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota’s Badlands during the last year of his presidency.
Since the beginning of 2015, Obama has knocked a few states off his list: Idaho, where he ventured in a post-State of the Union tour of red states; South Carolina, which he hadn’t returned to since winning the state’s Democratic primary in 2008; and, on Friday, Utah, where he’ll deliver an address on the economy.
Obama hasn’t necessarily spent much time in each state he’s visited. In Alaska, he’s only made quick refueling stops at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on his way to Asia. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told state legislators this year that she expected the President to make a more substantial stop this summer.
The other non-contiguous state hasn’t been hard for Obama to reach whatsoever: The first family has spent every winter holiday season in Hawaii since he took office.
His most recent predecessors have all strived to hit the 50-state mark. George H.W. Bush reached all the states in his term. Clinton took longer but eventually reached every one.
George W. Bush left office one state short of 50; he never traveled to Vermont, the liberal bastion of upper New England where state legislators, outraged at the Iraq War, voted to impeach him and Vice President Dick Cheney.
It turns out Obama faces a similar audience in the final state on his checklist. The South Dakota Republican Party adopted a resolution last summer calling for Obama’s ouster.