Obama campaign's kickoff moves "forward"

(CBS News) President Obama officially launches his reelection campaign today, bringing his message of "Forward" to college campuses in two battleground states.

With his new campaign slogan "Forward" - indicating there is more work to be done - he is likely to paint two different pictures: An America under an Obama administration that pulls the economy out of its woes by strengthening the middle class, and a Romney administration that moves backward, where the wealthy have more advantages.

The president is speaking at Ohio State University in Columbus and later at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. - states considered "ground zero" for both candidates this year.

He is expected to highlight his accomplishments, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, bailing out the American auto industry, and repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." However, his biggest legislative achievement, the passage of the health care law, is a thorny issue that could be overturned by the Supreme Court this summer.

The campaign previewed his campaign message in a seven-minute video earlier this week. Highlighting the economic challenges he faced coming into office in 2009, the video's narrator says, "Like America, [the president] dug deep, fought back and never lost faith in our ability meet the challenge."

The video takes swipes at Republicans, painting them as obstructionists: "Republicans were waging a campaign to tear the president down," the narrator says.

Republicans are pushing back. After the slogan "Forward" was unveiled, Mitt Romney mocked the slogan at a recent fundraiser in Northern Virginia, saying "It's like, forward, what? Over the cliff?"

Furthermore, the Republican Party has launched its "Hype and blame" fundraising campaign, selling bumper stickers with the slogan, riffing the president's 2008 campaign slogan "Hope and change."

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars expected to be spent this election season - much on negative ads about opponents - the economy could be the most important player this election. The president's campaign launch comes amid lower-than-expected jobs numbers, which both sides are spinning to their advantage.

The president said on Friday: "Our businesses have now created more than 4.2 million new jobs over the last 26 months - more than 1 million jobs in the last six months alone. So that's the good news."

However, the Romney camp sees it differently. In a memo to reporters, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus said, "Now we've had 38 straight months of 8 percent unemployment or higher."

Six months ahead of Election Day, the race is close. Mr. Obama is tied with Romney in recent polls in key battleground states of Ohio and Florida. In Virginia, however, Mr. Obama is leading Romney 51-44 percent, in a Washington Post Poll released Friday.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.