VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- President Obama made an appeal to military families and veterans on Friday during a campaign stop to one of Virginia's largest military communities.
Obama spoke to hundreds at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, which is home to the Navy's East Coast Navy SEAL teams as well as the Navy's master jet base on the East Coast. Virginia Beach also has a significant retiree population that consists of veterans and is a suburban bedroom community for commuters who work at the world's largest naval base in adjacent Norfolk.
"I am running for president because there are a lot of folks in Virginia who have served us in uniform with such bravery and dedication and patriotism, and I want us to keep faith with our troops, and make sure that our veterans get the benefits that they have earned," Obama said to applause.
Virginia is a key battleground state in the 2012 presidential elections, and polls show the race between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is neck and neck. Four years ago Obama won the state, which Republicans had carried in the previous 10 presidential elections.
Prior to his arrival at the school, Obama stopped at a Virginia Beach cafe where he met with the wives of three military service members. Obama told them that helping military families is important to him and that a lot of times companies are willing to hire veterans if they're asked.
"I love the fact that this administration is focusing more on military families," said Jennifer Farlin, whose husband is a Navy officer serving in Bahrain. "Prior to this, we felt lost.
"Sometimes employers don't want to hire you because you're military."
Underscoring the importance of the military connection, Obama had a Navy veteran whose husband is a pilot based at Naval Air Station Oceana introduce him.
While Obama's speech primarily focused on his economic policies, he also stressed that he kept his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq and noted that troops are coming home from Afghanistan.
"We have gone after al-Qaeda, decimated their leadership ranks, taken out Osama bin Laden. So now I think it's a good time for us to take half of those savings that we've gotten from winding down these wars, use half of it to pay for the deficit, use the other half to do some nation-building here at home," Obama said.
Following his speech in Virginia Beach, Obama traveled to Phoebus High School in Hampton, which is home to Langley Air Force Base.