With an eye on recruiting volunteers, President Barack Obama is launching the first TV ads of his re-election campaign.
Campaign officials said Tuesday the ad buy is "tiny" on national satellite TV stations but aimed at learning whether television is a good way to find volunteers. In the two 30-second ads, Obama urges viewers to call a number on the screen or visit the website www.JoinObama.com, which invites people to enter their email address and zip code to become involved with the campaign.
"The 2012 campaign is under way and the outcome will depend not on what I do, but what you do," Obama says in one of the ads.
Obama's campaign has placed a premium on building a large network of volunteers and the ads are aimed squarely at that effort. By placing them on satellite TV in small increments, the campaign can test how well they help to recruit people to join neighborhood campaign teams, knock on doors and register new voters.
"They can go in a targeted way, see where it hits, see how effective it is and work out the kinks," said Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who is not affiliated with the campaign.
For Obama, who became politically active as a community organizer in Chicago during the mid-1980s, the first ads remind viewers of his "change" message in 2008 and underscore his campaign's strategy of building a large organization next year to compensate for his weakened standing and voters' unhappiness with the direction of the country.
"It all starts with you making a decision to get involved because we've got so much more to do," Obama says.
Republicans said the ads showed Obama was struggling to generate the enthusiasm he had during the 2008 campaign. "By acknowledging that the 2012 campaign is in full swing, it's clear everything Obama does for the next year is about saving his job," said Kirsten Kukowski, speaking for the Republican National Committee.
Obama's campaign has held thousands of events around the nation to jumpstart participation, including neighborhood gatherings, one-on-one meetings in coffeehouses, phone banks and voter registration drives. His team is also trying to organize many of the voters who formed the foundation of Obama's coalition in 2008 _ black and Latino voters, women, college students and young voters entering the work force.
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