DETROIT, Mich. – Obama supporters are going to the movies.
In the effort to fire up backers nationwide, the president's re-election campaign screened a documentary about President Barack Obama’s tenure at more than 300 spots on Thursday.
The 17-minute "documentary" production, called "The Road We've Traveled," is narrated by Tom Hanks and directed by Davis Guggenheim. It highlights the Obama administration's aid package to the automobile industry – the same accomplishment touted this morning in a campaign speech by Vice President Joe Biden. (While Biden specifically named the Republican candidates at his Thursday address in Ohio, the Guggenheim movie names only one – Mitt Romney – with a brief mention of Romney’s 2008 op-ed titled, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.")
In downtown Detroit, the segment about the auto bailout drew applause from a crowd of more than 150 Obama supporters, most of them African Americans, who gathered at a 2012 campaign office for the screening.
"He has the nerve to do unpopular things," Gloria Mills, a retired teacher and native Detroiter, said of Obama after the film. "They keep saying 'saving the auto industry.' He made a very good business decision and made a good business loan. We made money from that and the industry is booming again."
At the Detroit headquarters, the screening was preceded by a lengthy presentation – that at times had the air of a pep rally – by local campaign staff about its area phone banking and voter registration goals.
The film opens by outlining the economic woes faced by Obama even before the inauguration, with key advisers predicting a possible economic collapse without swift action.
"All I was thinking at that moment was 'Could we get a recount?'" senior advisor David Axelrod jokes in an interview.
Also named in the film as major feats are the passage of the health care overhaul, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the president's naming of two female Supreme Court justices.
Perhaps as prominent as Hanks' narration is former president Bill Clinton, who appears in the film five times to laud his Democratic predecessor's decision-making.
"He took the harder and the more honorable path," Clinton says of Obama's decision to order the attack on bin Laden's compound. "When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, 'I hope that's the call I would have made.'"
Even as public opinion polls show Obama's approval rating in flux, supporters in Detroit were optimistic that the president's record would earn him a November victory.
Longtime volunteer Bill Richardson, 71, said that the still-unresolved GOP presidential primary would help Obama, adding that the more the president campaigns, the higher his chances for re-election will become.
"Once he starts campaigning, people start hearing what his accomplishments are, hearing what the Affordable Care Act is really doing for them and their children and their friends and neighbors, I think his chances will be 75 percent to 25 percent."
Gloria Mills, the teacher, was even more confident.
"Personally, I want him to beat the socks off the competition," she said. "But he's definitely going to be elected."