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President Obama to weigh in on 2016 race ‘choice’

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President Obama speaks in the Oval Office.

President Barack Obama heads to Elkhart, Indiana, Wednesday to tout the economic progress made since his first visit there in 2009, but he is also expected to wade into the 2016 election.

Obama returns to Concord Community High School — the site of his first visit as a President — to a town that has dramatically recovered from the recession. Since Obama’s first speech there, Elkhart’s unemployment rate has dropped from 19.6% to 4.1% today, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Manufacturing and graduation rates in Elkhart have also significantly improved from 2009.

While Obama will use the opportunity to tout the progress his administration has made over the past seven years, the remarks in Elkhart will also provide what the White House is calling an “opportunity to draw a clear illustration about the choice that the American people will face in November.”

The speech also serves as a likely preview of what Obama’s role will be in the campaign once

Democrats wrap up their primaries this month and choose a presumptive nominee. The White House has previously said that the President will play an active role on the campaign trail in the coming months.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that while he doesn’t expect the President to discuss the candidates by name in Elkhart, he does anticipate that Obama would use the example of Elkhart to draw a distinction between the two parties.

“He understands that his successor will have some important decisions to make about whether or not we are going build on this progress, are we going to build on this momentum, or are we going to tear it down? And there is a pretty clear choice to be made if you take a look at the policies that are being advocated by the two parties,” Earnest said.

Following the President’s remarks in Elkhart, he will participate in a PBS town hall answering questions from residents there.

“We still face some tough economic challenges, there’s no doubt about it,” Obama wrote in an email to supporters last week. “And all of us have to make some very important decisions about where we go from here. That’s what I’m going to talk about when I return to Elkhart on Wednesday. I hope you’ll tune in.”

In his final year in office, Obama has been returning to sites in the U.S. with significance for his presidential tenure. In February, he visited Springfield, Illinois, where he first announced in 2007 he was running for the White House.

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