President Barack Obama's presidential campaign launched a new voter registration and grassroots organizing program Thursday aimed at boosting turnout and participation among its core supporters.
The organization, called Project Vote, will try to increase involvement from voters who helped Obama win the White House in 2008, including young voters, seniors, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and gays and lesbians.
Obama's campaign said the project will "drive our campaign strategy _ from paid media, to digital outreach, to grassroots organizing and voter registration efforts" to connect with voters, including those who have not voted at high rates in the past or have recently moved.
Obama's team raised a combined $86 million between its campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the spring and campaign officials are already registering and organizing supporters for next year. The campaign has said a large turnout in 2008 helped propel Obama into the White House and it hopes to repeat that effort next year.
Facing high unemployment and a jittery Wall Street, Obama has had to confront questions over his handling of the economy more than a year before the election. A new Associated Press-GfK poll found that 47 percent of voters said he deserves re-election, a statistical dead heat with those who favor a change in the White House.
Republicans are months away from choosing their nominee, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann among those hoping to challenge Obama.
The Republican National Committee said the project was a sign of weakness, arguing that the Obama campaign had lost ground with its base of supporters and was scrambling to connect with those voters.
Ken Thomas can be reached at http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas