In one of the first official stops of his 2012 re-election campaign, President Barack Obama addressed the 20th Anniversary Convention of Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network. Unlike 2008, the president will be running on a record of both successes and failures, just two years after suffering a self-proclaimed mid-term "shellacking." Our Josh Robin has more on Obama's plea for minority voters not to grow complacent.
NEW YORK STATE -- A rally with Reverend Al Sharpton is one of the first stops for Obama 2012. Sharpton is marking the 20th anniversary of his National Action Network.
"A lot has changed in 20 years. You're getting skinnier than me. Skinnier than spike," said President Obama.
Last election, it took a while for the pair to draw close. Now Obama is counting on Sharpton to get out the vote among African Americans and some liberals.
"I'm not asking you. Not national satisfaction network. Know change is possible," said Obama.
Obama cast his agenda as a modern civil rights struggle. His team uses similar language in their plan to tap new voter registration to win again.
"And that's maybe one of the differences between how I approach this and some on the other side who seem to want to constrict the number of people who want to vote. I think let's let everybody in America vote," said Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod.
It's a sign how far Sharpton has come in two decades. No longer radioactive, at least for a lot of the country, Sharpton now even stumps with Newt Gingrinch on improving education. Embracing him is a blessing for Democrats, without being an national albatross.
"As I said when I was chair of his exploratory committee for the presidency, he has morphed from being metal wearing in a jogging suit to a national leader with a blueprint and a following," said democratic consultant Roberto Ramirez.
The kind who can draw not just the president, but also three members of President Obama's cabinet.