Reporting from Washington —
President Obama's reelection campaign is launching a major television advertising campaign this week, according to a person familiar with the details, effectively kicking off the general election even before Republicans have settled on a nominee.
The spots will begin airing on national cable channels and broadcast television in six key states on Thursday and Friday.
It is unusual for an incumbent to begin airing commercials so early in the process. In 2004, President George W. Bush's campaign started running television ads in March.
The early start reflects the expectation among Democrats that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will ultimately emerge as the GOP challenger, as well as the need to bolster the president's standing after weathering a barrage of attacks throughout the primary process.
The Republican National Committee called the Obama campaign's decision to begin airing ads this early "unprecedented," and said it "indicates that he and his campaign team in Chicago are worried that voters have lost faith in his ability to lead."