The day after Mitt Romney practically clinched the Republican nomination, the Obama campaign announced the president would be hitting the campaign trail soon.
"Welcome to the general election," said Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager in a conference call with reporters. Romney flagged it off on Tuesday, with a five-state win in the primaries.
Romney is the Republican candidate for all practical purpose now, barring an official coronation ceremony, with only Ron Paul still in the race. Newt Gingrich is pulling out.
Obama will start with two rallies on May 5 in Ohio and Virginia. The Obama campaign has long considered Romney the inevitable rival and waited for the Republican primaries to formally given him the nomination before tackling him.
Obama and his aides steadfastly refused to join issues with Romney or any of his rivals during the primaries, with the President saying he will wait for The One.
Romney almost wrapped it up Tuesday night handily winning five northeastern states - New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Islands.
"Almost" because Romney is still short of the magic number 1,444 and at least one rival, Ron Paul, is refusing to withdraw despite having no chance whatsoever. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is pulling out, his spokesman announced Wednesday. He will official halt his campaign next week, and endorse Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor, however, is not going to wait for them to withdraw. He declared the games open on Tuesday: "A better America begins now."
Romney has made it clear he will be focussed on Obama's record on economy with a comment that was a twist on Bill Clinton's: "It's still about economy ... and we are not stupid."
The Obama campaign plans to raise $1 bin, which scares the Republicans and inspires them to do more. Romney is not far behind, but trails substantially.