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Barack Obama officially launches election campaign

world Updated: May 07, 2012 01:29 IST
Yashwant Raj

President Barack Obama officially launched his re-election campaign Saturday with two rallies, defending his performance and attacking his presumptive Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Obama said Romney champions the same policies that landed US economy in trouble, wants to prolong the war in Afghanistan and is basically out of touch with the larger America.

The president also addressed an issue he knows will be used against him: the economy, which continues to be sluggish with now-there-now-gone signs of recovery.

"Over and over again, they will tell you that America is down and out, and they'll tell you who to blame," Obama said at the rally in Richmond, Virginia.

The first rally was in Columbus, Ohio. The turnout at both rallies was huge, with supporters cheered him along repeatedly with cries of "For more year".

The Romney campaign, as the rest of the Republican party, has indeed made economy its top attack issue, saying continuing joblessness disqualified Obama for a second term.

The president, however, was not going to be an easy target.

Obama laid out his case -defending health care, deficit cuts, clean energy initiatives and ending the war in Iraq.

Wearing no suit or tie, the president tried to become once against the candidate of 2008 whose slogan of hope and change had struck a chord with a Bush-weary America.

"If people ask you what's this campaign about," he said four years later, "you tell them it's still about hope. You tell them it's still about change." The hall erupted, once more.

"I told you in 2008 that I wasn't a perfect man, and I will never be a perfect President," Obama said, "... (But) I would wake up every single day fighting for you as hard as I know how. At both rallies Obama was introduced by his wife Michelle Obama, whose popularity ratings remain many notches above that of the president, and he acknowledged it.

The first lady spoke of her growing up years in a family that was really proud to have send their children - Michelle and her brother - to college, when it could hardly afford it.

"And while pretty much of all my college tuition came from student loans and grants - you can relate to that - my dad still paid a small portion of that tuition himself," she said.

Their pitch was to the middle class America, tactically aimed at portraying Romney as a pro-rich candidate who cared only about the rich such as himself.

"He (Romney) sincerely believes that if CEOs and wealthy investors like him make money, the rest of us will automatically prosper as well," said President Obama. Romney campaign struck back within hours of the Ohio speech.