President Barack Obama’s two 2012 campaign kick-off rallies were a defensive and critical echo of his rapturous 2008 “Hope and Change” campaign, and they occurred in university stadiums that lacked the Romanesque setting used at his triumphant election-night rally.

Media coverage was similarly muted, with his rallies overshadowed on online pages of The New York Times and the Washington Post by articles about Brazilian tribes, ice-hockey scores, and new graduates accepting unpaid internships instead of jobs.

In Virginia, organizers led the crowd through the process of calling a friend to urge support for Obama.

However, Obama’s campaign failed to fill the 18,300-seat Ohio stadium or the 7,500 Virginia stadium, although additional thousands of people were on the stadium floors.

Both stadiums were located at universities favorable to Obama, and the campaign had officials used their e-mail lists to encourage supporters to attend the weekend events. The crowds included many campaign volunteers.

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