(POLITICO) — President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will officially kick off the 2012 general election on May 5 with rallies at Ohio State University in Columbus and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, representing twin paths he’ll need to win.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Mitt Romney swept five primaries and declared “a better America begins tonight,” forcing his last serious opponent, Newt Gingrich, out of the race. The end of the GOP primary contest prompted the Obama campaign to publicize plans that have been in the works for months.

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