Obama Begins Bid for 2012 Re-Election With Video and E-Mail
President Barack Obama began his bid for re-election in 2012 by releasing a campaign video on his website and sending an e-mail to supporters that said the job of preparing for his campaign “must start today.”
Obama filed paperwork today with the Federal Election Commission and spoke with supporters tonight in a conference call that also was broadcast on his campaign website.
“We’re doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you -- with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers and friends,” Obama wrote in an e-mail. “That kind of campaign takes time to build.”
The campaign will be “farther reaching, more focused, and more innovative than anything we’ve built before,” Obama said. “Even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today.”
The filing with federal election officials allows Obama to begin fundraising and other organizational efforts for winning a second White House term. The campaign will have its headquarters in Chicago, the president’s adopted hometown and base for his 2008 victory.
Obama, 49, said this will be his “final campaign, at least as a candidate,” and signed the message, “Barack.”
The two-minute video features interviews with supporters and doesn’t include any spoken words from Obama. It starts with a man in North Carolina, the state that will host the Democratic National Convention next year and one that he carried in 2008.
The video also includes images from his historic 2008 campaign, when he was elected the first black U.S. president, including his announcement speech in Springfield, Illinois, and a Fox News television screen showing him the victor of the Iowa caucuses in January 2008, the first official contest on the nomination campaign.
The Republican National Committee responded to the Obama video by distributing to reporters editorial criticism from newspapers and blogs saying that Obama is conducting “a backseat presidency” by failing to tackle “exploding costs of entitlement spending” in such areas as Medicare and Medicaid.
“Obama has shown a distinct lack of leadership on the budget debate,” the RNC said, adding that he chose “politics over substance by sitting on the sidelines” on overhauling programs.
The president is beginning his campaign as he confronts foreign policy challenges that include the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. There is also continued economic stress at home.
The national unemployment rate is projected to be 8.3 percent in 2012, according to a median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News in March. While that would be down from the current 8.8 percent figure, no president since World War II has been re-elected with the jobless rate higher than 7.5 percent.
Obama likely will give a formal speech on his re-election bid at a later date. He is scheduled to make an April 14 fundraising stop in Chicago, where donors four years ago provided him some of his earliest funding. Additional April fundraising events are being planned in California and New York.
Analysts who track fundraising say they expect the 2012 presidential election to cost $3 billion, about 50 percent more than the $2 billion the Federal Election Commission said was spent in 2008 by candidates, the political parties and outside groups. Obama raised a record $745 million in 2007 and 2008 for his presidential campaign and was the first major-party nominee to reject public financing for the general election.
Jim Messina, a former White House deputy chief of staff, has moved to Chicago to run the campaign. Also back in Chicago to handle the campaign’s messaging and strategy is David Axelrod, a former senior Obama adviser in the White House.
The president’s job approval was at 42 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll taken March 22-28 with an error margin of plus-or-minus 2.2 percentage points. That was down from 46 percent in a March 3 Quinnipiac survey and at its lowest level in the university’s surveys on Obama.
Also, 50 percent of the registered voters surveyed by the Hamden, Connecticut-based polling institute said Obama didn’t deserve re-election in 2012, compared with 41 percent who said he should receive a second four-year term.
In a hypothetical race with an unidentified Republican opponent, voter sentiment was statistically tied: 36 percent for Obama, 37 percent for a Republican.
The Republican nomination contest remains wide open, with potential candidates ranging from former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to real estate developer Donald Trump.
“How can America win the future, when we’re losing the present?” Pawlenty asks in the video, which highlights unemployment and record home foreclosures. “In order for America to take a new direction, it’s going to take a new president.”
Other prospective Republican candidates include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who is stepping down as the Obama-appointed ambassador to China in April.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has expressed interest in the Republican race, as has former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The lack of a clear frontrunner has encouraged others, including Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite, to position themselves for potential runs.
The Iowa caucuses, the first electoral test in the nomination process, are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 6, 2012.
Pawlenty announced March 21 that he is forming a committee to explore a bid, becoming the first major prospective candidate to do so. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia said March 3 he was creating a website to explore a run.
Four years ago, when no incumbent was in the presidential contest, a total of 17 Republicans and Democrats had signaled their candidacies or set up exploratory committees by the end of January 2007, including Obama and then-Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, who now serves as secretary of state.
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