When President Obama flies to Ohio today, he will land at a military base that could soon fall under the budget knife.
C-27J transport planes from the Ohio Air National Guard base in Mansfield will be lined up so that Obama can see them as Air Force One lands, reports the Mansfield News Journal.
''It's critically important to us," said Col. Michael Howard, the 179th Airlift Wing vice commander, the News Journal reports. "We're still very optimistic about keeping the C-27Js. We couldn't do anything without the community support. We're in a waiting game. But we're very optimistic."
Like other military facilities, Mansfield could be targeted by automatic Pentagon cuts that kick in if Congress is unable to put together a debt reduction package.
White House aides say there are no plans to shut down the Air National Guard base in Ohio.
"The President is committed to working with the Department of Defense to find a mission for Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, so that the men and women who serve there can continue to make their important contribution to our national security," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News.
Ohio Republicans have harped on the threat to the base in Mansfield as Obama prepares to campaign today there and in Akron.
"If President Obama has his way, his Air Force One arrival would be one of the final flights into Mansfield-Lahm Airport," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is mentioned as possible running mate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The Mansfield News Journal reports on the budget battle over the air facility:
In recent months, the community rallied to help save the base and its aircraft, sending more than 20,000 "Write to Congress" emails to Ohio senators and congressman in a matter of weeks.
Local officials said the aggressive involvement by the Mansfield-area community put a temporary hold on what surely would have resulted in the closing of the 179th Airlift Wing and the loss of more than 800 local jobs, at least 350 of them full-time positions.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill in May blocking cuts at Air National Guard bases. The Senate's plan would ensure the C-27J aircraft at Mansfield, along with the KC-135 at Rickenbacker's 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus and the C-130H planes at the Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Station, are spared from cuts for at least a year.