Obama kicks off 2012 re-election bid

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Monday announced his 2012 re-election bid as he urged his supporters to mobilize again to "help shape" the victory.

"This campaign is just kicking off," Obama said on his official website.

Obama`s team released a video on his website and sent an e-mail to supporters announcing his plans for a second term.

"We`re opening up offices, unpacking boxes, and starting a conversation with supporters like you to help shape our path to victory. 2012 begins now, and this is where you say you`re in," Obama said.

In an e-mail to supporters, Obama said the reelection bid would start small and grow over time, "with people organising block-by-block, talking to neighbours, co-workers, and friends".

"So even though I`m 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 our campaign must start today," the President was quoted as saying by Huffington Post website.

The president`s online campaign was widely seen as a key strategy to galvanize his supporters in 2008.

The announcement for a second term in office comes so that Obama can file papers with the Federal Election Commission and begin accepting campaign contributions.

In 2008, Obama secured a staggering USD 750 million in his bid for the White House. ABC News said that some believe he "may cross the threshold and could become the first USD 1 billion presidential candidate" next year.

"The president and I have discussed the challenges ? and there are challenges," said Jim Messina, a former White House deputy chief of staff for Obama who is running the president`s re-election campaign.

"But I want people in the Chicago headquarters who live and sleep and eat and breathe re-electing Barack Obama as president," Messina was quoted as saying by The New York Times.

In a recent national opinion poll, Obama has been rated by Americans higher for his handling of foreign affairs than those of domestic and financial issues.

Forty-six per cent approve of the President`s handling of foreign affairs and 44 per cent his handling of Libya, while his highest rating on three domestic issues is 40 per cent for health-care policy, the Gallup said in its latest opinion poll on Obama released on Friday.

Obama`s approval ratings on all five issues — foreign affairs, Libya, health care, economy and federal budget deficit — are below 50 per cent, as is his overall job approval rating, which is 47 per cent.

The survey was conducted from March 25 to 27.

Since he was elected during the 2008 economic downturn, Obama`s handling of the economy could arguably be the most critical issue for how Americans evaluate his presidency leading up to his 2012 re-election bid and how historians judge his legacy in the future, the Gallup said.

Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, has formally declared his candidacy from the Republican Party ticket to take on Obama.