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Obama to publicly launch reelection campaign next week

April 25, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli

WASHINGTON -- President Obama will publicly kick off his bid for a second term next week, his campaign announced Wednesday evening.

The president, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, will travel to Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Va., on May 5, events that represent a long-awaited shift from official to purely political travel.

At the events, campaign officials say the president "will speak about how far we've come, and lay out the very real stakes in this election: whether we choose to keep moving our country forward, or go back to the failed policies that crashed our economy and left the middle class struggling to catch up."

In an election in which as many as a dozen states will be considered potential battlegrounds, both Ohio and Virginia are expected to be among the most fiercely contested.

Obama's political activity to date has otherwise been limited to closed fundraising events, many in Washington, New York and Southern California. Vice President Joe Biden has until now had a more public campaign presence, delivering a series of "framing speeches" on issues such as the auto industry rescue, retirement security, manufacturing and tax reform.

Biden is to deliver another campaign speech Thursday in New York on national security.

The announcement comes on the same day the Republican National Committee formally declared Mitt Romney the party's presumptive nominee and began to fully integrate their respective campaign operations.

Republicans have been increasingly critical of the president for, in their view, campaigning on the taxpayer dime with events the White House has termed official business.

On Wednesday afternoon, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation for what the party calls a "blatant campaigning and misuse of taxpayer dollars," following a three-state, two-day swing by the president to pressure Republicans to extend lower student loan interest rates.

They alleged that since taking office, the president has held "dozens of events that benefited OFA on the taxpayer dime," and linked the issue with a spending controversy at the General Services Administration.

The White House dismissed the complaint.

"When there is political travel, we follow all rules and regulations that all other administrations have followed," spokesman Eric Schultz said.

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