Obama visits battleground states


US president Barack Obama is embarking on a four-day march through battleground states and the storm-battered Gulf Coast in the lead-up to his party’s convention.

With Democrats streaming to Charlotte, North Carolina, for next week’s nominating convention, Mr Obama returns to Iowa today.

For his part, Republican candidate Mitt Romney looks to capitalise on a newly energised GOP fresh from its convention with a rally in Cincinnati before joining running mate Paul Ryan later in the day in Jacksonville, Florida.

Both campaigns are criss-crossing the country as the campaign enters September, each day adding to the sense of urgency in a presidential contest that has remained tight since Mr Romney sewed up the Republican nomination in April.

Mr Obama’s Irish cousin, Henry Healy, is to attend the  convention next week. The Moneygall native secured a ticket after being invited to attend the Irish-American Democrats convention party next Wednesday. He said he will fly out this morning and back next Saturday, travelling at his own expense.

“I’m excited because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity afforded to me to see President Obama accept the nomination. “It’ll be an electrifying part of the re-election campaign, to be there to witness and absorb the atmosphere,” Mr Healy said.

Mr Healy, who welcomed the Obamas to the Offaly town in May last year, recently took up a new job helping people trace ancestors. He has deferred a teaching course for a year.

Additional reporting: AP