Obama prepares for re-election bid
President Barack Obama is wasting little time getting back in front of voters following a 10-day Hawaiian holiday spent largely out of the spotlight.
Air Force One landed just before daybreak in Washington, with the president returning on the same day Republican presidential candidates square off in the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest of the 2012 campaign.
Obama plans to make his presence in the campaign known quickly as he aims for re-election in November.
The president will host a live web chat with supporters in Iowa as the caucuses are unfolding.
Aides said the president will seek to draw a contrast with his Republican challengers during a Wednesday trip to Ohio, a state sure to figure prominently in the presidential campaign.
Aides say Obama spent time on holiday brainstorming ideas for his January 24 State of the Union address, where he will lay out an agenda that also will serve as the basis for his campaign message.
Obama returns to Washington facing further debate on extending payroll tax cuts, which consumed Washington during the final days of December.
Congress broke through a stalemate just days before Christmas, agreeing to extend the cuts for two months. Lawmakers will get back to work later this month to negotiate a full-year extension of the cuts, which Obama supports.
White House officials say the tax cut extension is the last "must-do" legislative item on Obama's agenda this year. His strategy for his fourth year in office will focus largely on taking executive actions that do not need approval from lawmakers as he seeks to break away from a deeply unpopular Congress.