Updated at 8:44 am ET
President Obama has just launched his presidential campaign with a video titled, “It Begins With Us.”
The front page of Obama’s campaign website at barackobama.com calls on viewers to join the campaign by adding their email address to the millions-long list of emails Obama operatives assembled during the last campaign and in the years since.
This campaign is just kicking off. 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.
The video features a series of “regular people” offering reasons why they think Obama needs to remain president, but it has no footage of Obama other than a brief silent snippet of his 2007 announcement speech in Springfield, Ill. The site also includes links that allow supporters to join the campaign in a more active manner.
In an email to his supporters – signed “Barack” – the president confirmed that he will file papers today legally launching the campaign and urged everyone to get busy.
We’re 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 neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build.
We’ll start by doing something unprecedented: coordinating millions of one-on-one conversations between supporters across every single state, reconnecting old friends, inspiring new ones to join the cause, and readying ourselves for next year’s fight.
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.
By starting his presidential quest with a message to his supporters and an offer to join at the grassroots level, Obama is signaling he will attempt to resurrect the type of mass insurgency that first swept Obama into the Oval Office in 2008.
But the call to arms will not be so easy this time. Obama’s approval number is stuck below 50 percent, he’s lost the support of many independents, and even liberals are angry he has failed to act on some of their major priorities – including immigration reform and the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison detention – while starting a war in Libya à la George W. Bush.
The difficulty is tacitly acknowledged in the video, with one of the speakers noting, “I don’t agree with Obama on everything. But I respect him, and I trust him.
Obama becomes the first major candidate of either Party to begin his presidential campaign, a move that allows him to begin fundraising and to start organizing with the type of high profile that can draw volunteers early in the process.
The president plans to begin collecting money this month, including an expected event in Chicago that will serve as a kind of homecoming cash bash. There is talk in political circles that the campaign hopes amass a war chest of at least $1 billion.
While it may seem early and even opportunistic to begin the campaign more than a year and a half before Election Day, Bush launched his campaign at about the same distance out.
In his email, the president made one statement that will be a relief to his opponents, who after two years of his presidency may be as energized to remove him as Obama’s supporters were to put him in office in 2008:
This will be my final campaign, at least as a candidate.