President Obama's advisors are telling potential donors that he is in a weaker position heading into the 2012 election than he was in 2008 and are detailing potential vulnerabilities of likely opponents, according to people who have seen their presentation.
The donor meetings and the recent hiring of several senior campaign staff members are among the early moves Obama aides have made before the official launch of the president's re-election effort, which Democratic officials say will come shortly after April 1.
The centerpiece of their pitch to donors is a 10-page slide show, which features the slogan "Change that Matters" and offers an early glimpse into the thinking of the president's re-election team. Jim Messina, a former White House official who will become Mr. Obama's campaign manager next month, has been presenting the "strategy briefing'' around the country in recent weeks.
Mr. Messina made several stops in South Florida last week to reconnect with 2008 donors, particularly those who supported Hillary Clinton when she was a rival to Mr. Obama for the Democratic nomination. The president's political aides, people at the meetings said, are trying to establish stronger ties to some of these donors as they navigate what may be a difficult fund-raising environment.
Part of Mr. Messina's presentation is to caution donors that while Mr. Obama has recovered after the trouncing his party took in the 2010 elections and is well-positioned for 2012, he will face a tough re-election fight that will require substantial donor support, according to people familiar with the presentation.
The slide show cites Michigan and Pennsylvania as places where Mr. Obama's standing has dropped since 2008 while GOP support has gone up. Using bureaucratic short hand for President of the United States, the slides warn: "POTUS maintains clear but narrowed support" and note there is "significant work to do to increase support among key demographics."