DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — President Barack Obama plans to campaign in cities across Iowa for three days next week, making his longest visit to a single state yet as he works to reach deeper into battleground states.

It will be Obama's fifth trip to Iowa this year and is reminiscent of his 2008 Iowa caucus campaign, when he devoted weeks to campaigning in every corner of the state.

That effort led to a surprising first place finish that propelled Obama to the Democratic nomination and a strong win in Iowa in the general election. Obama seems to be betting that extending his stay this time will help him connect with voters who could again be essential to his chances for re-election.

"As he puts together his fall campaign, for him to get back to where his campaign began in many ways — that rather magical experience — for him to rekindle some of that really makes a lot of sense," said Tad Devine, a top aide to past Democratic presidential nominees Al Gore and John Kerry.

While Obama speaks fondly of Iowa in light of that caucus victory, Iowa's mere six Electoral College votes are seen as critical. Obama hopes to carry most of the states he won in 2008, and Iowa is among six hat are viewed as the most competitive, based on polls, campaign travel and advertising expenditures. Colorado, with nine Electoral College votes, is another, and Obama will campaign there Wednesday and Thursday.

The campaigns and supportive outside groups have spent $26 million on television advertising in Iowa and $30 million in Colorado.

Romney is in Iowa this week, with a private fundraiser planned Tuesday night and a public event Wednesday morning at a Des Moines high school. This is Romney's fourth visit to Iowa since clinching the GOP nomination.

Obama's visit will begin Monday, and he'll wend his way across the state with stops in smaller cities less often visited by presidents seeking re-election, campaign aides said. He plans to start in Council Bluffs and Boone, then stop Tuesday in Marshalltown, Oskaloosa and Waterloo before closing the trip with events in Dubuque and Davenport on Wednesday.

First lady Michelle Obama is expected to join the president for the Wednesday events.

Although a stop at the iconic Iowa State Fair in Des Moines is not on Obama's preliminary schedule, the president often makes unannounced stops — and the fair will be entering its fifth day as Obama arrives.

Obama aides said the president was devoting significant time to campaigning in Iowa, as well as Colorado, so he could talk directly to more voters, particularly those living in smaller cities.

Obama has campaigned twice in Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second largest city. He was in Iowa City, home of University of Iowa, in April, and Des Moines in May, after stopping in Newton, a struggling manufacturing city in central Iowa.

The cities on Obama's itinerary next week are within range of larger media markets, which can multiply the impact of such a sustained visit.


Associated Press writer Julie Pace contributed in Washington contributed to this report.