By Tim Kiska

Attack ads. Check. Presidential visit. Check. Michigan’s 2012 presidential race has begun.

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Americans For Prosperity, a group associated with the Koch Brothers, is airing attack ads in the Detroit TV market aimed at President Barack Obama.

(The Koch Brothers are a couple of oil billionaires who have spent millions on conservative causes, and fully intend to spend freely this year. They also helped bankroll the Tea Party movement.)

Not to be outdone, President Obama’s re-election campaign is reportedly buying advertising in four states—including Michigan–directly challenging the Prosperity ads, and characterizing the Koch brothers as “secretive oil billionaires.” He’ll deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, and travel to Michigan the following Friday.

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What this says: Michigan will be a key state in the 2012 presidential election.

The Americans For Prosperity ad goes after the White House for its role in financing Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel maker that once entertained the president during a 2010 visit to their California facilities. No doubt, the Koch Brothers think Michigan is in play.

And so, too, apparently, does the Obama campaign. Those newly-produced campaign ads — a direct attack on the Prosperity campaign, will air within days. All of this in advance of Michigan’s February 28 presidential primary, which will undoubtedly draw visits from Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney.

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The president is expected to visit Iowa, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado (in addition to Michigan) next week. All five went for Barack Obama in 2008. And all five are up for grabs this year.