From staff, wire reports

President Barack Obama is ramping up a fresh phase of his re-election bid with a bus tour next week, focusing more on direct engagement with voters and less on ritzy fundraisers.

Obamaís two-day road trip through Pennsylvania and Ohio, two key battleground states in the November election, kicks off July 5, a campaign official said. It will be the presidentís first bus tour of the 2012 campaign.

The bus trip also will coincide with the release of the monthly nationwide jobs report, a key economic indicator that could directly affect the presidentís re-election prospects. The most recent report, for May, showed a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, raising fears among Obama aides of an election-year economic slowdown.

Obamaís Ohio campaign was unwilling to provide any additional details of the trip Wednesday, beyond confirming the president will be in the state next week.

Wayne Jones, chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, said he has not heard where Obamaís bus will stop in Ohio.

Barack and Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited Akron in 2008, with Barack Obama holding a rally at the John S. Knight Center that drew about 6,000 people.

While Obama has been running for re-election for months, his efforts have focused largely on hauling in cash from supporters in dozens of fundraising events across the country as his campaign seeks to compete with energized Republican donors. He spent the early part of this week on a two-day, four-state fundraising blitz that brought in more than $5 million.

The president still will headline campaign fundraisers through the fall, but the official said Obamaís schedule would start to include more of a mix of campaign rallies and other events focused on speaking directly to a wide swath of voters in the states Obama needs most in order to hold the White House.

Further underscoring his strategy shift was his campaignís announcement this week that Jennifer Psaki, a former senior White House aide, was joining the presidentís re-election team as traveling press secretary.

Ohio and Pennsylvania, with 38 electoral votes between them, are crucial to the presidentís re-election bid. Obama won both states in 2008, but Republican rival Mitt Romney is expected to make a strong play for each.

Just over four months from Election Day, Obama aides consider Ohio a toss-up but believe Pennsylvania is leaning in the presidentís favor. Romney took a bus tour of his own through Ohio and Pennsylvania earlier this month. One of his stops was in Brunswick on Fatherís Day.

Two polls released Wednesday showed Obama with slight leads in Ohio over Romney.

A new JZ Analytics Online Poll conducted over the past weekend shows Obama with a five-point lead, even though nearly half of Ohioans agree it is time for someone new. A Quinnipiac University poll found Obama with 47 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Romney. The same poll in early May had them nearly even in Ohio.

Obama has turned to bus tours before when he needed to reconnect with voters. Last summer, after a bruising fight with congressional Republicans that brought the government to the brink of fiscal default, the president hit the road for a Midwestern bus tour aimed at refocusing his presidency on the economic issues affecting the middle class. He followed it up with a fall trip through Virginia and North Carolina.

Obamaís itinerary for the bus trip was still being finalized, but the official said the president probably would hold events in northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

The official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss details of the trip before an official announcement from the campaign.