Orchestrated by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, top Virginia Republicans issued a series of statements Thursday accusing Obama of presiding over “radical” cuts that would harm the state’s economy as well as national security. The effort highlighted not only how competitive Virginia is expected to be in this year’s presidential race, but also the new hurdles that loom for Obama in a state he won in 2008 with a six-point margin.

“Virginia is the home of America’s military,” Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said in a statement distributed by the Romney campaign. “We are home to the Pentagon, to Quantico, to Norfolk, to Langley Air Force Base, and so many other critical components of our nation’s armed forces. The President has put our defense budget on course for radical cuts that even his own secretary of defense says will be ‘devastating’ to U.S. national security.” …

Virginia is one of three states (the others are California and Texas) expected to be hit hardest by the cuts, according to a growing body of research. But it is the only crucial battleground, which explains why Republicans are seizing on Obama’s two days of events there to highlight the reductions. Obama will speak in Virginia Beach, Hampton and Roanoke on Friday and in the Richmond area and Fairfax County on Saturday — all locations rich in military installations or defense contractors.