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Obama plans southern Minnesota visit on Monday

ST. PAUL -- President Barack Obama plans a southern Minnesota visit next week to start a three-state rural Midwestern tour.

The White House late Tuesday afternoon issued a statement with no details.

"President Obama will travel to the Midwest on a three-day economic bus tour, making stops in southern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and western Illinois," the short White House statement said. "The president will discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation and hear directly from Americans, including local families and small business owners. The president knows we must do everything we can to promote economic growth, restore confidence in our nation's future and restore the sense of optimism for future generations."

While the trip was revealed last week, the White House on Tuesday continued to offer no information about where he would be other than a previously announced northeastern Iowa rural forum.

Obama is to be in Minnesota Monday. On Tuesday, the president heads to Peosta, Iowa, where he will hold a rural economic forum at Northeast Iowa Community College.

The rural trip wraps up in Illinois Wednesday.

After the Midwest swing, Obama plans his family's annual New England trip to Martha's Vineyard.

The trip is being called an official visit, not a campaign event.

Using a bus is rare for a sitting president. The Hill newspaper says the Secret Service bought armored buses earlier this year for the two major presidential candidates and to be used when there are large numbers of dignitaries to transport.

The tour includes vital states in the 2012 election. Many Midwestern states went mostly Republican in last year's election, including both chambers of Minnesota's Legislature turning Republican.

Obama's trip comes on the heels of Saturday's Iowa straw poll, which could help clarify the Republican presidential race. It comes a day after Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a probable presidential candidate, speaks in northern Iowa.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.