Fort Pierce, Florida (CNN) – President Barack Obama got a warm embrace on Sunday – one that lifted him about a foot off the ground.
While campaigning in Fort Pierce, Florida, the president stopped into Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant, where about 10 customers were gathered inside, and greeted the shop's owner, Scott Van Duzer.
(CNN) - When President Barack Obama's campaign announced plans for a full-court press while Republicans hold their convention in Tampa, Florida, this week, some veteran political watchers marked the end of an era.
After all, as much as there has ever been accepted "rules" of presidential politics, it was once a given that the opposing candidate ceded the convention week to his rival - it was the polite thing to do.
Instead, the Obama campaign is doing anything but. Not only will surrogates for the president blanket Tampa and key battleground regions, but the campaign's three key figures will also be doing their best to steal some of Mitt Romney's orchestrated thunder this week.
On Tuesday, the day Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are scheduled to address the convention in prime time, Obama will kick off a two-day, three-state tour of swing states that include stops at college towns in Iowa, Colorado, and Virginia. The Obama campaign strategy: contrast the expectedly older demographic that historically is represented among Republican convention attendees with images of the president rallying thousands of enthusiastic young people.
Waterloo, Iowa (CNN) – Going from a couch next to Jay Leno to the campaign bus with the president, first lady Michelle Obama will join the final leg of her husband's Iowa bus tour on Wednesday.
"This is where the journey began for him and where it began for the first lady, and Iowa will always have a special place in their hearts," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Earlier in the week Mrs. Obama made an appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," where she dished about the Olympics, the "kiss cam" malfunction, and stumped for the president.
"Campaigning is a privilege" the first lady told the audience, before revealing her proudest moment of the president's first term.
"Health reform. I mean, you know...something that hasn't been accomplished by a sitting president in a century," she said.
The first lady remains a popular figure and the Obama campaign considers her a key asset.
There's "no better advocate for the president's policies than the first lady," said Jen Psaki campaign spokeswoman.
They're hoping her appeal will sell in Iowa, a key battleground state with only six electoral votes, but with immense political clout.
The first couple will appear jointly at the Alliant Energy Amphitheater in Dubuque. Then follow that rally with a final stop at the Village of East Davenport in Davenport.
CNN White House correspondent Brianna Keilar shows us the interesting intersection of the Obama and Romney campaigns in one small Ohio town Wednesday.
President Obama said he is the “underdog” in the 2012 campaign, given the tough economic conditions facing the country. Despite his position as the incumbent, the president said in an interview with ABC News that he is “used to being the underdog,” referring to the beginning of his 2008 run for president. “But at the end of the day people are going to ask who's got a vision for the future,” he said.
The high unemployment rate and struggling economy also led President Obama to say that the American people are “not better off” than they were four years ago. The comment was in response to a question that referenced the famous question Ronald Reagan used in his campaign against Jimmy Carter in 1980. "They're not better off than they were before Lehman's collapse, before the financial crisis, before this extraordinary recession that we're going through. I think that what we've seen is that we've been able to make steady progress to stabilize the economy but the unemployment rate is still way too high," he said.
CNN's Robyn Curnow caught up with first lady Michelle Obama in Botswana for an interview during which she discussed some of the high points of her African trip:
On Mandela: "The one thing I told him, I wanted to make sure he understood how important his leadership and sacrifice has been to who I've become, to who my husband has become and, in short, I just said, 'Thank you.' It's really hard to know what to say to such an icon."
On the U.S. elections: "We really don't talk about the election. We're really doing the work, and that's an important and useful distraction in the midst of it. There's a lot on the president of theUnited States' plate that keeps him focused on what needs to be done, so you just keep doing what you believe is right. I always say this: One of the reasons why I support this president and not just as my husband, but as a citizen, is because I see him taking that long view. I see him every day waking up worrying, not about polls, but worrying about what is the right thing to do for the future. That keeps you pretty focused on what's important."
On husband's campaign: "When it comes to the campaign we're ready to work hard. We did it before and we'll do it again, so we're rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it."
On daughters: "Fortunately, we have help from the media. I have to say this: I am very grateful for the support and kindness that we've gotten. People have respected their privacy, and in that way, no matter what people may feel about my husband's policies or what-have-you, they care about children, and that's been good to see."
Washington (CNN) – Republican candidates, party organizations, and independent groups spent just over $115 million during the midterm election campaign on televisions commercials critical of President Barack Obama.
According to a new analysis of TV ad spending for CNN by Campaign Media Analysis Group, the $115 million is a record for a midterm election cycle.
Click here to read the entire story by CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser.
MUMBAI, India (CNN) – It wasn't quite a presidential endorsement, but it was warm enough that outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will take it.
White House aides are signaling late Friday that President Obama expects that Pelosi will probably win her bid for House Minority Leader and he's looking forward to working with her if she does win, even though the prospect of Pelosi staying front and center will cause heartburn among conservative Democrats and wild cheering by Republicans.
Washington (CNN) - As I walked into the East Room for President Obama's post-shellacking news conference, a colleague from another organization joked, "Get ready for 17 versions of the same question."
I laughed because his point was true, many of us in the White House press corps were about to ask Obama several versions of the same question: After losing more than 60 seats in the House and several in the Senate, did you really hear the message from voters?
In short, do you get it?
Washington (CNN) - Of the 21 Democratic candidates that President Barack Obama specifically campaigned for or fundraised for this year, 11 won their elections, eight lost their contests, and two are in contests still too close to call. President Obama reflected on those losses the day after the election.
“There is not only sadness about seeing them go but there’s a lot of questioning on my part in terms of could I have done something differently or done something more so that those folks would still be here,” Obama said at Wednesday’s press conference. “It’s hard. And I take responsibility for it in a lot of ways.”