President Obama insisted he wouldn't spend much time discussing his newfound support of gay marriage, but it's clear the president isn't going to shy away from the divisive issue any time soon.
A day after declaring that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, Obama raked in more than $1 million in campaign contributions, Democratic officials said. He then jetted off to a Hollywood fundraiser Thursday where his host, actor George Clooney, championed the president's endorsement of same-sex nuptials.
The president's re-election campaign also was quick to leverage the publicity surge by launching a new campaign ad that attacks his likely fall opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, as "backwards on equality" because Romney opposes gay marriage.
"What rights would Romney deny?" asks the ad, which targets gay voters and their allies and was released within hours of the president's announcement. "Health insurance for your partner and kids, denied. Adopting children together, denied. Emergency decisions for partners, denied. Even President Bush supported civil unions."
Though Obama is now focused intently on the issue of gay rights, strategists said he'll likely return to the key themes of this campaign, jobs and the economy, as the campaign proceeds.
"It's clear he's taking a victory lap," said one Democratic strategist. "He can't be seen as shying away from it right now. But I assume he'll pivot in the future and cater that message to a receptive audience. I expect him to strike a different tone when he's in Ohio and Pennsylvania, for example."
Obama's aides insist he only revealed his position now because Vice President Biden forced his hand in declaring his own support for gay marriage over the weekend. And while the president's historic declaration in favor of gay marriage is energizing his base, the issue remains rife with political pitfalls.
North Carolina this week became the 30th state to approve a ban on same-sex marriage, and polling shows 35 percent of the state's Democrats believe marriage should remain solely between a man and a woman.
In Maryland, residents will vote in November on a General Assembly-approved measure legalizing gay marriage. But if Gov. Martin O'Malley is counting on Obama to cross the Potomac to help campaign for the initiative, he's not letting on. O'Malley's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
And if history is any indication, supporters of gay marriage could face an uphill fight even in the liberal bastion of Maryland. Whenever voters around the country have been asked to decide the issue, they have opposed gay marriage.
The president's endorsement of same-sex marriage isn't sitting well with another constituency critical to his re-election prospects, black religious leaders who vehemently oppose such unions.
"We want to know in no uncertain terms from the president himself whether the religious community in particular and America in general should expect the White House to take an official position on this issue and will the president urge Congress to draft any form of legislation?" said Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville. "We would also be keen to know if the president intends to use his bully pulpit to urge others into acceptance of his 'newly aligned positioning' where same-sex marriage is concerned."