May 11th, 2012
12:07 PM ET
(CNN) - With Mitt Romney's victories in the April 24 Republican primaries, a new phase of the campaign began at Obama re-election headquarters in Chicago. After a year spent hiring staff and building an organization, Obama for America finally had what it had been waiting for: an opponent.
"The monologue is over," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said the day after Romney's conclusive five-state primary sweep. "Now Romney has to put his record and his agenda up against the president's, and we look forward to that debate. The general election might just be starting, but we've been at this for more than a year in Chicago."
This year of preparation certainly gave the Obama campaign a head start on building up a national organization, but it also allowed the campaign leadership to map out a message for the early weeks of the general election.
The map has included a campaign kickoff just days after the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, a huge push by the president on the issue of student loans and an aggressive attempt to define Romney as out of touch with the struggles of middle-class Americans.
Even the president's recent announcement that he now supports same-sex marriage appears to have been scheduled as a part of the campaign's rollout. Senior advisers to the president say Obama was always planning to announce his new position before the Democratic convention in September, probably at a time when his Democratic base needed energizing.
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