HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Utah, check. One more state to go for President Barack Obama: South Dakota.
Utah was the 49th state visited by Obama and the latest stop on his recent tour of Republican “red” states.
Since Republicans took control of both houses of Congress in January, Obama has traveled to 10 GOP states: Arizona, Tennessee, Idaho, Kansas, Indiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Utah, all of which voted for Obama rival Mitt Romney in 2012. Obama also has visited nine states that voted for his re-election.
The White House says there is no concerted effort to put the president in Republican states. “”There are really important, substantive reasons that explain the places we go,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
After spending the night in Salt Lake City, Obama appeared on Friday at Hill Air Force Base near Ogden to announce new steps to support military veterans by training them for solar industry jobs. “A lot of our men and women in uniform at some point are going to transition into civilian life and we want to make sure that after they’ve fought for our freedom that they’ve got jobs to come home to,” the president said,
The departments of Energy and Defense are starting a program at 10 military bases nationwide, including at Hill Air Force Base, to teach service members who are transitioning out of the military how to install solar panels.
The Energy Department has committed to training 75,000 people, including veterans, for solar industry jobs by 2020.
In terms of travel, Obama had visited 46 states by the start of the year. The White House quickly scheduled presidential appearances in Idaho and South Carolina — two of the four remaining states — followed by Utah.
South Dakota now has the distinction of being the only state awaiting a presidential visit by Obama. With 21 months left on his term, he has plenty of time to get there.
When he gets to South Dakota, Obama will become the fourth president to hit all 50 states, according to the White House Historical Association.
Richard Nixon was first, followed by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Ronald Reagan came four states short of the goal.
George W. Bush never made it to Vermont.