RICHMOND, Va. -- On Saturday, President Obama officially kicked off his general election campaign with a pair of big rallies on college campuses -- one in Ohio and one on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University here in Virgina's capital.
Now that both Obama and Mitt Romney are in their full general election swing, some contrasts can be drawn between Obama events and Romney events. Some takeaways:
• Size: The Obama campaign told reporters the president drew 14,000 to his first rally of the day in Ohio and 8,000 to his rally at VCU. While the Ohio speech left about 4,000 empty seats in the arena on the campus of Ohio State University, both crowds dwarfed anything Romney's been able to draw so far.
• Passive vs Active: Supporters at Obama's rally in Virginia were given homework -- the campaign and the speakers on stage (including Obama) urged them to sign up with the campaign and register voters. First Lady Michelle Obama even reminded the college kids in the audience to change their registrations if they're moving over the summer. Everywhere you turned, supporters were being asked to hand the Obama campaign a phone number, address or social media account handle.
This is not the scene at a Romney rally, generally. While campaign staff often sign up supporters with clipboards, voter registration booths and social media stations (both fixtures of Obama's Virginia rally) are nowhere to be found. And Ann and Mitt Romney rarely, if ever, talk about voter registration.
• Diversity: If the two Obama rallies on college campuses Saturday are any judge, the president is once again facing a campaign cycle where his crowds are much more represenative of America's population than his opponent's. All ages and races were represented in the thousands of faces at VCU and Obama got big cheers when he reminded the assembled of the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and his continued support for the DREAM Act. Romney's crowds, by contrast, tend to be whiter and older. Romney has made a big push recently to appeal to women and has promised to do more to appeal to the Latino vote as well. But for now, the diversity is found at Obama's rallies.