Republicans insist President Obama has been on the campaign trail for months already, but the Obama campaign told reporters Wednesday evening Obama’s campaign travel doesn’t kick off until May 5.
That’s when the president and First Lady Michelle Obama travel to Ohio State University and Virginia Commonwealth University for what his campaign officials said were the first official stops of the campaign.
“We think it’s a pretty special thing that the president and the first lady will be together,” said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. “We don’t expect to see any celebrities.”
Obama’s campaign has made plenty of use of celebrities so far. Actress Eva Longoria is one of his national co-chairs, and the campaign has been offering small donors a chance to join Obama and actor George Clooney at Clooney’s house.
Messina said the May 5 events were a “ramp up,” and that Obama will be balancing a campaign schedule with the demands of his “day job.”
The campaign may look different, but Obama’s said it won’t sound that different from what voters have been hearing from Obama for a while now.
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod, in touting his boss, took a subtle dig at Mitt Romney by praising the president’s “consistency” as one of his best qualities — a nod to suggestions that Romney is a serial flip-flopper.
“As long as I’ve known him, he’s been concerned about this issue of the viability of the middle class … that is what has been at the center of what he’s been working on, at the center of what he’s been fighting for, that is the project that he is on.”
“We’re not the candidate who reinvents himself from week to week,” Axelrod said. “If you want that you’ll have to go somewhere else.”
Republicans have complained for months that Obama’s presidential speeches are impossible to differentiate from campaign speeches. In what is a ritual every time an incumbent president runs for reelection, Republicans have accused Obama of using his official presidential resources to hold campaign rallies over the past week as he stopped in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa (all important swing states, to be sure) to talk up his college loan plan.
On Wednesday, the RNC made its complaint official, calling on the GAO to investigate Obama’s use of public resources on what Republicans called a campaign trip.
In a preview of what is expected to be a brutal and nasty campaign, the tiff over travel devolved into both sides snapping at each other. The Obama campaign pledged to play by the same rules past presidents have when it comes to paying for things like campaign trips on Air Force One, and dismissed the Republican complaints.
“We’re not going to get hot and bothered by RNC stunts,” Axelrod said.
Republicans stuck to their story.
“I think it’s interesting that the president just now realized he maybe should pick up the bill for his campaigning after a year of doing it on the taxpayer’s dime,” said RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski.