Obama launches his bid for re-election

President barack Obama launched his re-election campaign yesterday in an email to 13 million supporters, calling on them to join forces behind his leadership and the changes he has battled for in a nation riven with hyperpartisan political divisions.

Facing a monumental battle over how the federal government spends taxpayers' money and a possible government shutdown due to a lack of funding, Mr Obama said the fight was not finished in keeping the high-flown promises that carried him into the White House in 2008.

"We've always known that lasting change wouldn't come quickly or easily. It never does," Mr Obama wrote in the email. "But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we've made – and make more – we also need to begin mobilising for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest."

Potential Republican opponents are jockeying for position to challenge Mr Obama in presidential balloting that still is 19 months away. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is the only mainstream candidate who has taken the first steps to start a campaign, filing papers that allow him to form what is known as an exploratory committee to raise money and hire staff. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former speaker Newt Gingrich are also expected to join the race.