Obama plays hero in own campaign movie
Washington - Barack Obama turned up the intensity of his re-election bid on Thursday, debuting a movie glorifying himself as a president who made "tough" decisions that dragged a traumatised nation out of crisis.
The 17-minute film, soberly narrated by Tom Hanks, is packed with pensive still photos of Obama, and testimony to his toughness from backers like former president Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and top political aides.
It opens with footage of Obama's euphoric victory rally in Chicago in 2008, recreating the hope and expectation of that campaign, but perhaps inadvertently pointing to the difficultly of recreating that heady moment in time.
"Time and again, we would see rewards from tough decisions he had made, not for quick political gain, but for long-term and enduring change," Hanks said.
"So when we remember this moment and consider this president, then and now, let's remember how far we have come and look forward to the work still to be done."
The film, called The Road We've Traveled and directed by Oscar winning director Davis Guggenheim, comes across as an effort to convince Obama supporters, perhaps disappointed by his presidency so far, that they should sign up to fight for him again in November's election.
The film is essentially a greatest hits of the Obama presidency, putting the most positive spin possible on his domestic, economic and national security policy, and skipping over bitter feuds that have raged since he was elected.
Republicans are sure to mock the movie as a grandiose attempt to disguise an administration they consider a miserable failure, with unemployment still above 8.3% and many Americans yet to feel the benefits of a recovery.
The film's most dramatic moments surround Obama's decision to order a special forces raid deep into Pakistan which killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden last May, and the reality that he had to make the final call alone.
"If he was wrong, his presidency was done," Vice President Biden says, over a shot of a black and white photo of Obama staring alone out of a window in the White House.
The successful raid was "the ultimate test of leadership, a victory for our nation, and there would be many others", Hanks intoned. Clinton says he hopes he would have made the same tough call as president.
Other top aides describe how Obama inherited an economy in "cardiac arrest" and on the brink of collapse amid the worst meltdown since the 1930s.
Character of the man
"When he faced his country, who looked to him for answers, he would not dwell in blame or dreamy idealism," Hanks says.
"The tough decisions he would make, would not only determine the course of a nation, but reveal the character of the man."
The Obama campaign released the movie on a day when Biden and the president took their nascent re-election bid up another level - though the muddled Republican nominating race may not produce their opponent for months.
Biden praised Obama for rescuing US auto companies with an unpopular $80bn bailout opposed by many Republicans, but which has nursed America's iconic industry back to health.
"The guy I work with, every day, the president, didn't flinch. This is a man with steel in his spine," Biden told union members in the crucial swing-state of Ohio.
"He wasn't going to give up on a million jobs, and the iconic industry America invented. At least he wasn't going to give it up without a fight.
"He made the tough call, and the verdict is in, President Obama is right and they were dead wrong."
Biden named all three remaining Republican candidates, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in his speech, promoting himself and Obama as fighters for a middle class struggling in an economy weighted against them.
"If you give any one of these guys the keys to the White House, they will bankrupt the middle class again," Biden said.
Obama meanwhile fired off a pithy counter-attack to Republican assaults on his strategy to meet rising gasoline prices.
In his most sarcastic campaign mode, Obama slammed his rivals as "naysayers" who were stuck in the past, touting his plan to tap new energy sources like biofuels, and wind power and solar power.
"If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail... they would not have believed that the world was round," he said.