By Della Hasselle
MANHATTAN — The 2012 presidential race is on.
Fresh from his visit to Harlem, President Barack Obama kicked off his re-election bid in 2012 with a viral campaign ad featuring a New Yorker named Mike — but not Michael Bloomberg.
The two minute, 10 second online video, called "It Begins With Us," features "regular folks" including Mike from New York, who speaks glowingly of Obama's effect on the country and his intention to vote for him in 2012.
"I just saw the energy and hope he had for this country," said Mike, whose last name is not included on the video, "Even though I couldn't exactly vote at the time, I knew that someday I'd be able to help re-elect him. And that's what I plan on doing."
Within an hour of the campaign ad going online, thousands of Twitter and Facebook users shared the link, and Obama's page showed comments in threads that were hundreds of lines long.
Obama's Internet-heavy re-election campaign rollout is in keeping with the tone of his first campaign, which relied heavily on the web and social media for support. Obama launched for his first campaign in 2007, and raised $659.7 million in privately-donated funds in a major grassroots effort. More than $31 million of that money came from supporters in New York, according to 2008 statistics from the New York Times.
More than a few commenters responded on Facebook, adding their heated opinions on foreign policy, health care, gay rights and several other points of debate that the President has faced since his 2008 election.
Others noted that they found his early campaign launch aggravating and intrusive.
The president has been fresh in New Yorker's minds due to his scheduled appearances in Harlem. Obama is expected to return to New York Wednesday to support Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network a little over a week after his $1.5 million Harlem fundraiser.
Last week, thousands of people lined the streets to get a glimpse of Obama as he headlined a $30,800 per plate fundraiser at celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant on Lenox Avenue.