The gloves are off.

Opening what is likely to be a bitter and grueling election, President Obama held his first official campaign rally here in the Buckeye State, cranking up his populist pitch while slamming his likely opponent Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans.

Speaking six months and a day before Election Day, a fiery and combative Obama, his sleeves rolled up, touted a “forward-looking America” while taking a series of shots at his likely opponent before a raucous audience in this swing state.