Obama to kick off campaign on May 5

Obama to kick off campaign on May 5

WASHINGTON
Obama to kick off campaign on May 5

US President Barack Obama arrives to speak at Chapel Hill on April 24. Obama will headline his first re-election rallies next week in Ohio and Virginia. AP photo

U.S. President Barack Obama will headline his first re-election rallies next week, marking an important turning point in the race for the White House, as Republican nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney intensified efforts to unite his party and raise money for the battle ahead.

The rallies will be held on May 5 in Ohio and Virginia, two battleground states that are important to Obama’s strategy of retaining the White House after the Nov. 6 election. Obama carried both states in the 2008 election. “Welcome to the general election,” Obama campaign manager said.

Gingrich quits race

Michelle Obama, the popular first lady, will join the president at the rallies, which will be held on the campuses of Ohio State University in Columbus and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Obama’s campaign speech at New York University represents a broad defense of Obama’s national security record, according to a draft of the speech. Meanwhile, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has decided to quit his long-shot presidential run and will next week throw his support behind Romney, his spokesman said April 26. “It’s clear Romney is the nominee and the focus should be on defeating Obama,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich is expected to hold a final event in Washington on May 1, after which he will suspend his White House campaign. He had a friendly telephone conversation on April 26 with Romney and had started planning an event where he would throw his support behind the likely nominee, Gingrich spokesman R.C Hammond said. The pair agreed to work together to unite conservatives against Obama.

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