US President Barack Obama chose to launch his 2012 re-election campaign on Monday with a low-key email and video sent to supporters in which he vowed to cement and expand the policies he had fought for in his first term.
Obama can claim to have delivered - painful - change
Announcing that he would be filing official papers to start his re-election bid in a formal way, Obama called on his supporters to prepare for a tough battle as he looked ahead to his "final campaign" which would be "farther reaching, more focused, and more innovative than anything we've built before."
Obama admitted that the last two years of painful reform had been tougher than expected, glaringly evident in the head of silver hair the previously youthful incumbent was sporting in the web-based video in which he urged his supporters to stay the course and build a solid case for re-election in November 2012.
"We've known that lasting change wouldn't come quickly or easily. It never does," Obama wrote. "But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we've made... we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest."
"So 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 early yet low-key approach is seen by some observers as a pre-empted move to counter claims from critics who may accuse Obama of ignoring more pressing matters to concentrate on his own job security. It may also be an attempt to get a jump on what could be the largest funding drive in US history, with the 2012 election forecast as the first $1 billion presidential race.
Obama raised a record $750 million to win the 2008 election while running as a senator from Illinois.
President to campaign as a reformer
Obama's health care law was not well received by everyone
While Obama will campaign for 2012 as a genuine reformer and the man who delivered on his promise of change after passing a historic health care law and a bill curtailing Wall Street excess, he faces a fight to convince his critics who have attached his face and administration's failings to the many problems he inherited from the previous government.
His slow progress in improving America's slow economic rebound and his country's battered reputation abroad has dragged Obama's approval rating into the top end of the 40 percent region. While this is not a catastrophic situation in the context of the problems he's faced, it still shows a considerable loss of belief in a president who once commanded a 69 percent rating in the tail end of his first 100 days in office.
However, Obama can point to a slight decrease in unemployment, an indicator of a slowly improving economy, as a sign that his approach to the financial crisis is working and he remains on course to honor his core 2008 promise to end the Iraq war and bring US troops home by December of this year.
Republicans slower off the mark
Palin, 2008 vice presidential candidate, remains silent
Even though no Republican challengers have yet to formally announce their candidacy, Obama leads his most likely potential Republican rivals in the early opinion polls.
Former Massachusetts Governor and failed 2008 contender Mitt Romney and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty are said to be laying the groundwork for their own campaigns while Sarah Palin has yet to make any moves to mobilize her support. Her thunder may have already been stolen by the new female star of the right-wing, Michele Bachmann.
Others thought to be consdiering throwing their hat in include former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Alabama Governor Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa in the 2008 election.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Rob Mudge