Obama makes it official: He's running for reelection

President Obama has been fund-raising and making political speeches for months, most recently taking jabs at presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. At rallies in Ohio and Virginia Saturday, Obama officially launched his campaign for reelection.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
President Barack Obama speaks to students and parents at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., Friday, May 4, 2012, about his efforts to prevent interest rates from doubling on federal student loans.

Have you heard? President Obama is officially kicking off his reelection campaign today, traveling to rallies in battleground states Ohio and Virginia.

We know what you’re thinking: Hasn’t he been running for reelection for months? Years?

Well, yes, that’s the way it is for all first-term presidents. But just as Mitt Romney pivoted from the primaries and caucuses once he’d virtually been declared the Republican nominee (don’t tell Ron Paul), so Obama will try to reignite 2008’s “fired up, ready to go” spirit at campus rallies Saturday at Ohio State and Virginia Commonwealth.

Getting bin Laden and five other boosts to Obama's reelection bid

Gone is the campaign slogan “Hope and change,” replaced by “Forward.” Or as put it in a headline: “Obama 2012: Less aspiration, more function.”

“What their choice of ‘Forward’ is recognizing is that this isn’t going to be an election of passion,” Drew Westen, the author of “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation,” told Politico “The passion that can be built into ‘Change We Can Believe In’ – that this time is going to be different – people don’t believe that anymore. They were smart not to try to go with something like that. ‘Forward’ is more workmanlike.”

It’s also pretty easy to mock, as the conservative political action committee American Crossroads did in a new video Thursday titled “Backward.”

"The only thing moving forward under Barack Obama – our national debt, up $5 trillion," the narrator intones in the ad.

Of course, the Obama campaign is launching campaign videos left and right too – suggesting that Romney might not have gone after bin Laden; taking a dig at Romney’s Swiss bank account; tracking the life of a fictitious “Julia” to prod the GOP’s alleged “war on women;” stringing together a bunch of Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Romney.

So how is Obama doing six months before the election?

His overall message can pretty much be bumper stickered with something Joe Biden said recently: “Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”

Obama takes credit for launching the Navy’s SEAL Team Six to take out Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a “Mission Accomplished” moment more legitimate than his predecessor’s flying aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on a brilliant made-for-TV May Day, 2003 – years before the United States was able to begin disengaging from Iraq.

But as Friday’s jobs report shows, and the auto industry recovery aside, the economy is another matter.

In his radio address Saturday (which had a political and therefore a campaign tinge), Obama tried to move public attention from war to “nation building” in the United States.

“As a new greatest generation returns from overseas, we must ask ourselves, what kind of country will they come back to?” Obama said. “Will it be a country where a shrinking number of Americans do really well while a growing number barely get by? Or will it be a country where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules – a country with opportunity worthy of the troops who protect us?”

And with an obvious dig at Republicans, he said that would take “responsible choices.”

“I don’t think we should prioritize things like more tax cuts for millionaires while cutting the kinds of investments that built a strong middle class, he said.

It’ll take some pretty persuasive arguing to make his case for another four years in office.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 47 percent of voters in Ohio think Romney would do a better job on the economy than Obama (43 percent). In Florida, another battleground state, Romney is ahead on the economy 49-40 percent.

In an open letter to Obama in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Romney writes: “I have a simple question for you: Where are the jobs?”

“I recognize, of course, as do all Americans, that you inherited an economic crisis,” Romney continues. “But you've now had three years to turn things around. The record of those three years is clear. Your policies have failed, not only in Ohio, but across the nation.”

Tough stuff, not easily rebutted.

Which is why Obama has been fund-raising for months, his campaign brain trust meets regularly in the White House, and he’s trying to fire up his supporters with an official campaign launch today.

Getting bin Laden and five other boosts to Obama's reelection bid

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