In an e-mail to supporters, Obama said his campaign would be an effort “to protect the progress we’ve made — and make more.”
Obama faces a far different dynamic than he did in 2008, when he ran as an underdog outsider promising hope and change. Many who backed Obama then have soured after two years of difficult and, often, unpopular decisions on the economy, war, energy and a host of other issues.
“The good news is that he’s close to 50 percent, no opposition in the primaries, he can raise an unlimited amount of money, his base is pretty solid,” said Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster who was a top adviser to President Clinton. “The bad news is independents have gotten away from him, the economic climate we are facing is pretty grim and we are fighting three wars.”
Obama must also reenergize the legions of supporters who propelled him to the White House but whose enthusiasm has dampened in the face of the compromises and setbacks of governing.
To that end, there were a number of echoes of Obama’s history-making 2008 campaign in his announcement. In a two-minute video included in his e-mail to supporters, for instance, a woman identified as Katherine from Colorado talks about “changes” followed by a young voter identified as Mike from New York who talks about “hope.”
“We’re not leaving it up to chance,” said a woman identified as Gladys from Nevada. “It’s an election that we have to win.”
The challenges Obama faces were made clear just hours after his announcement, when his administration said that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four co-defendants accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will be tried in military commissions in Guantanamo. That’s a reversal from Obama’s campaign pledge to hold the trials in federal court and another reminder of the president’s unfulfilled promise to close the prison.
Obama did not appear in public on the day of his announcement, as aides said he would remain focused on governing. But in brief remarks to a group of Democratic activists in Portsmouth, N.H., Vice President Biden offered an economic theme that Democrats said will reflect the campaign’s message.
Biden reeled off a series of statistics that showed economic growth in the past several months despite Obama entering office during “the worst economic crisis since the Depression.”
“We stepped up,” Biden said.
Aside from rallying supporters, Obama launched his campaign Monday so he could start raising money for a race that may cost more than $1 billion. His announcement came at about the same time in his first term that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush announced that they were seeking reelection.