President Barack Obama formally announced his reelection bid Monday, April 4, and followed that up with his first stump speeches of the season, saying, “This is going to be different from 2008.”
The new Obama campaign opened with condemnation of the tea party-backed Republicans in the Midwest, Maine, New Jersey and elsewhere, who have sparked a nationwide fight back by attempting to ram through anti-labor laws. Based on what leading officials are saying, the campaign intends to emphasize the takeover of the Republican Party by extremists.
“You need to do it again in order for us to be able to win again,” Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday on a conference call with supporters. “And there’s so much at stake for this country in making sure that we do not yield the agenda to the governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, and the members of the House of Representatives. This is not your father’s Republican Party, and everything that we feel is necessary to put America in the position to quote ‘win the 21st Century’ literally depends on our re-election.”
“I’m fired up,” Obama said in the same call.
The Obama campaign’s headquarters will be in familiar turf: downtown Chicago, or “the Loop,” as the area is known there. Also familiar are the names of campaign leaders. Jim Messina, former White House aide, will be the campaign manager. David Axelrod is to head up strategy, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs will lead communications.
The campaign office is in friendly territory, of course. “I will help the president,” said Chicago’s mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. “I’m pleased that Chicago will be the headquarters.” Emanuel served as Obama’s chief of staff before resigning to seek Chicago’s mayoralty.
While most are predicting a hard fight, some think the disarray and newfound extremism in the Republican Party will lead to an easy Obama victory. “Can’t wait for debates!” wrote supporter Kip Anthony Miles on Obama’s 2012 Facebook page. “Obama has nothing to worry about!”
The Obama campaign emphasized that a strong grassroots effort was needed to win, however. In an April 4 letter to supporters, Obama wrote, “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. And that kind of campaign takes time to build.”
Obama won’t be able to campaign as much, since he now has the more-than-full-time job of being president, however. On this, Obama wrote, “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 president is not going to be out there on the stump. He’s not going to be able to be out there doing the organizing he was able to do as a candidate,” Biden said in the phone call with supporters. “So we’re going to have to rely more on you all than you ever did. We’ll still be out there. We’ll be out there full force as the camp kicks up. But for now we have to count on you. We have to count on you to put this organization back together.”
Obama noted that some things were going to be easier this time around. “98 to 99 percent of folks know who I am,” he said in the call.
The first campaign video shows people across the country, enthusiastic about supporting the president. However, it acknowledges that, as president, Obama has made decisions with which some may disagree.
“I don’t agree with Obama on everything,” said a supporter featured in the video. “But I respect him and I trust him.” The same supporter said earlier, “I can’t not be involved. There’s too much that’s important going on.”
Also yesterday, Obama appointed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., to chair the Democratic National Committee. Her first statement as DNC chair condemned the Republicans for hindering the fight for jobs.
“All across America, Democratic leaders are fighting hard to create jobs and boost economic recovery, deliver real education reforms that guarantee American students are able to get ahead, and further the causes of justice and equality,” she said. “And all across this country, entrenched Republican forces are doing everything they can to prevent Democrats from succeeding in those goals. As we look toward 2012 in particular, I’m going to be working hard every day to guarantee that President Obama and Democratic candidates up and down the ballot are in the best position to win their races.”
Image: Public domain photo of Obama.