WASHINGTON (AP) — Against an increasingly bitter campaign backdrop, President Barack Obama is seeking to shore up support for his re-election in Virginia, a state he won four years ago ending decades of domination by Republican presidential candidates.

For challenger Mitt Romney, the state now looms as a battleground crucial to his presidential hopes.

Obama will travel to the southeast and southwest corners of the state Friday, courting young and African-American voters in the Virginia Beach-Hampton area before turning to more conservative Roanoke, unwilling to cede votes to Romney. On Saturday, he will campaign in Richmond, a once-staunchly Republican region that he won in 2008.

Both campaigns acknowledge Virginia's new role as a fiercely contested state after years of being virtually overlooked in presidential politics. Obama won the state by a 53-46 margin over his 2008 rival, Sen. John McCain.

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