President Obama to Officially Hit the Campaign Trail

Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina told reporters, "Welcome to the general election."

Posted: 04/26/2012 11:58 AM EDT

President Obama, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, will officially kick off his re-election campaign on May 5 with back-to-back rallies in the battleground states of Virginia and Ohio.

“Welcome to the general election,” said Campaign Manager Jim Messina in a Wednesday night conference call with reporters. “Over the coming months the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney will be clearer and clearer.”

With Rick Santorum’s exit from the race earlier this month and Newt Gingrich’s foot out the door, Romney is all but officially his party’s presidential nominee, and he and Obama have already set their sights on each other.

“It took him a while to get there, but we’re there,” said David Axelrod, President Obama's senior re-election strategist.

The rallies, which will be held in Columbus at Ohio State University and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, will be the start of a two-way conversation between the two candidates, after what Axelrod and Messina described as a one-sided conversation during which Romney has distorted the president’s record.

“The monologue is over,” Messina said. “Now Romney has to put his record and his agenda up against the president’s and we look forward to that debate.”

The campaign is particularly interested in challenging Romney on his business record, which Axelrod said was more about wealth creation than job creation.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who is reportedly in the running to become Romney’s vice presidential nominee, issued a statement after the call, echoing the campaign’s latest mantra that the nation can’t afford four more years of Obama.

“In less than two weeks, President Obama will be in Columbus, where he will argue for four more years of the same failed policies that have produced record unemployment and skyrocketing gas prices,” Portman said. “Mitt Romney has a plan to create jobs, reduce spending, and restore America’s promise. Our country can’t afford four more years of President Obama — it is time to put a proven leader with the record to back it up in the White House.”

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(Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)


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