BY DAN ROBINSON – President Barack Obama has formally announced he is seeking another four-year term. The announcement was made as the president grapples with major foreign and domestic issues, including efforts to accelerate the U.S. economic recovery.
The announcement came in the form of a video message on YouTube, and an email message to supporters in which Obama confirms he is filing paperwork required by the Federal Election Commission to begin soliciting donations for his 2012 campaign.
He said his administration and those supporting him are in “a fight to protect the progress” made so far. He said he remains “focused on the job you elected me to do,” but said the work of laying the foundation for his campaign had to begin.
The video is conspicuous in that nowhere in it does Obama appear making any new formal statement about his bid for another term or about his policies.
Instead, it contains remarks by Americans who supported the president in 2008, explaining why they believe it is important for him to be re-elected next year.
One supporter in the video said, “An underdog senator, you know nobody thought that he had a chance, and now he is the president. I just saw the energy and hope that he had for this country. Even though I could not exactly vote at the time, I knew that some day I would be able to help re-elect him, and that is what I plan on doing.”
The Republican National Committee issued its own video in response, attacking Obama on his economic policies. “You are cool, calm, collected. You have always gotten what you wanted. But was it ever what we wanted? We need jobs, we need leadership, yet you do nothing, as we pile up debts we can not afford.”
Public-opinion poll numbers in recent weeks show the president’s job-approval ratings weakening, especially since he enjoyed an upward bump after compromises he made with Republicans on tax issues late last year.
Several recent polls put his disapproval rating at between 50 and 53 percent. He hit 51 percent approval in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. A Gallup survey showed an equal number of Americans approving and disapproving of his work.
As in 2008, the Obama re-election campaign will not be accepting funds from the federal government. That gives him flexibility to raise even larger amounts than the more than $780 million he received in 2008, with many political analysts projecting he may need $1 billion dollars for 2012.
At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested that reporters not draw conclusions about how intensively Obama will be engaged in the early stages of the campaign.
Carney said the president remains focused on problems confronting Americans and the U.S. economy.
“He set up this structure, or is setting up this structure, that is being set up for him in Chicago, precisely or in part, to allow him to focus on the work he needs to do from the White House for the American people, and there is a lot on his plate.”
The president’s political position has improved since major victories by Republicans in last November’s mid-term congressional elections, in which the opposition took back control of the House of Representatives and narrowed Democrats’ majority in the U.S. Senate.
Obama has been ramping up fund-raising in recent weeks, making personal appearances at Democratic party events. His first formal fund-raiser is in his hometown of Chicago on April 14.
The White House announced Obama is adding a stop in Indiana – an important political “swing state” that went for him in 2008 – to a stop in Pennsylvania this week to press for more support for his energy policies.
It also was revealed the president has invited key members of Congress from both parties to the White House. The meeting is part of intense negotiations underway to avert a U.S. government shutdown, amid ongoing debate over how to reduce spending for the remainder of the current 2011 fiscal year, and eventually deal with longer-term deficit and national debt problems.