The documentary, narrated by Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, is called “The Road We’ve Traveled,” but it has everything to do with what lies ahead.
Although it was produced weeks ago, the documentary’s release comes amid a spate of recent bad news for the president, including some of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, news that his fundraising efforts have been less robust than expected and some political fallout from rising gasoline prices.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents in a Washington Post-ABC News poll cited disapproval over the president’s handling of the economy. Obama will hold five fundraisers on Friday: two in Chicago and three in Atlanta.
Senior White House advisers profess not to be concerned about the ratings slump, dismissing the results as not reflective of the nation’s true mood about the president, who has recently overseen an upturn in job creation.
Still, the campaign hopes the video will inject some energy — along with some campaign cash — into the president’s reelection effort, as his Republican rivals continue to slog through a grueling primary season. The campaign said that it planned to hold 300 screenings of the video nationwide on Thursday night, and many them were linked to phone-bank operations or new office openings.
Until now, the Obama campaign had been content to parry GOP attacks from the sidelines, through conference calls with reporters, videos on YouTube and the occasional television advertisement in markets where Republicans were holding primary contests.
White House aides declined to declare any of Obama’s or Biden’s appearances campaign events, other than fundraisers at private venues.
That changed Thursday in the key swing state of Ohio, where Biden showed up before a hall of unionized auto workers in Toledo. His appearance, the first of four campaign speeches that aides said will “define the general election,” injected grit where the Hollywood-infused documentary had added gloss.
Mentioning the Republican candidates by name, Biden drew the sharpest contrast yet between them and the Obama administration on the economy.
“Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do,” Biden said. “Our philosophy is one that values the workers in the success of a business. . . . We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They’re about no rules, no risks and no accountability.”
Biden’s speech was another clear indicator that Democrats intend to fiercely contest Ohio, which is a must-win for Republicans. The address came just days after Obama decided to make a college basketball game in Dayton, his first public event with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.