Obama Campaign Kicks Off with Events, Advertising

Presidential campaigning heats up in swing states


The Obama presidential re-election campaign is in full swing as campaign advisers on Monday touted a large television advertising buy in a handful of key battleground states on the heels of campaign events in Virginia and Ohio.

"Today we're releasing an ad in several key states that echoes the message the president delivered to the American people this weekend—we have a very simple choice between going forward or going back," said Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager during a conference call with reporters Monday.

The advertisements will run in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado, Messina said.

The effort comes as a new poll of swing states shows the 2012 presidential election remains extremely close six months away from Election Day.

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Obama leads presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney 47 percent to 45 percent, according to a USA Today-Gallup poll, that surveyed voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A similar poll conducted in March showed Obama up by nearly 10 points.

Despite the tightening of the race, it's not all bad news for Democrats. Their party's voter enthusiasm is up, according to the survey, with more Democrats saying they are extremely or very excited about voting. That marks a change from 2011.

David Axelrod, a senior campaign adviser for Obama, pointed out that it shouldn't be surprising the polling is close because "the reason these are swing states is because they are swing states."

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"They are closely contested, they have been in the past, they will again. But when you look at the fundamentals underneath we feel good about where we are," Axelrod told reporters.

The poll also mirrors other surveys showing Romney more trusted on handling the economy but Obama more well-liked.

Axelrod predicted that their re-election effort will have outspent Romney on advertising sometime in the next couple of weeks.

"Gov. Romney has run by our estimate – and this includes the Super PAC – something in the order of $55 million of media already in this campaign and close to 90 percent of it has been attacking opponents," he said. "By the end of this week or next week, we'll have spent more money offering people a positive vision for the future … than Gov. Romney has in his entire campaign and there's a reason for that."

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Both advisers also charged that the declining enthusiasm on the part of GOP voters is a direct result of the divisive and prolonged primary campaign.

"It turns out if you spend a year running negative ads, grinding down your opponent instead of making a case for yourself, if your vision is basically backward looking, then you diminish enthusiasm," Axelrod said.

Romney, who still is collecting the number of delegates necessary to officially secure the Republican nomination, will be on the ballot in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia on Tuesday. He will continue to campaign with an eye toward the general election, however, holding a rally in Ohio on Monday and at a community college in Michigan on Tuesday.

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  • Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at rmetzler@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.