Using a video posted on the YouTube website (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-VZLvVF1FQ) United States President Barack Obama informally kicked off what appears to be another grassroots campaign for his 2012 re-election bid.
In a move that likely presages a campaign that will intensively use social media, Mr. Obama also reached out to Americans through Twitter and e-mail, where he said: “Today, we are filing papers to launch our 2012 campaign. We are doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you — with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbours, co-workers, and friends.”
Mr. Obama said in his message that even though he was “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 his campaign “must start today”.
The announcement of the re-election bid, though widely expected, comes at a time when the Republican leadership is relatively fragmented and, according to some pollsters, is yet to throw up a candidate who could mount a serious challenge to Mr. Obama's campaign in 2012.
According to a poll by Gallup late last month, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich were “bunched in the top tier while another dozen or so possibilities bring up the rear”.
Similarly, a survey by the Pew Research Center in March also indicated “a fairly tight cluster”, with Mr. Romney at 21 per cent, Mr. Huckabee at 20 per cent, Ms. Palin at 13 per cent and Mr. Gingrich 11 per cent.
Mr. Obama's job approval ratings, which hit an all-time low last year, ticked up to above 50 per cent following his January deal-making with Republicans on extending tax cuts for the American middle class.
While some polls such as Rasmussen placed the proportion of people who “somewhat approved” of his performance down at 45 per cent in March, observers noted that the steady improvement in job market conditions for the last four months is likely to buoy Mr. Obama's prospects if it persists. In the month of March the economy added 216,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 per cent.