Is Team Obama entering the early stages of panic mode? However smug the campaign may appear on the exterior, most of the polls and pundits are generally predicting that this is going to be an exceedingly tight race, and The Hill posits that his campaign is already feeling a heightened sense of urgency:

While the president’s aides originally maintained they wouldn’t be moving from “zero to 60” when they launched their campaign in May, now, with less than four months until Election Day, it appears they’re pushing down harder on the pedal.

Since his Independence Day break, when Obama took a couple of days of downtime at Camp David, the president hasn’t let up, holding almost daily campaign events. There have been high-dollar fundraisers, a bus tour (complete with handshaking and baby-holding in restaurants, a farm stand and a bakery) and battleground rallies, all of which seek to control the national discussion.

And Obama has canceled his annual Martha’s Vineyard vacation next month, likely to spend more time on the road.

A senior Obama campaign official said while there’s some concern about the amount of money being raised on the Republican side, especially by outside groups — including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super-PAC — “it’s only natural that less than four months before an election … things are going to pick up dramatically for both sides.

Canceled his Martha’s Vineyard vacation? That does sound serious! Although, as Tim Carney points out, Team Obama is likely playing up the fundraising panic (“I will be the first president in modern history to be out-spent in his reelection campaign!”) so that he can play up the I’m-a-normal-guy, underdog angle. The tables could turn if the trend continues, but team Obama still has a total fundraising 44 percent advantage over Team Romney:

President Obama has fooled plenty of people into thinking Mitt Romney is beating him in the race for campaign cash. …

First, Obama’s campaign has outraised and outspent Romney’s campaign.

Second, the Democratic National Committee outraised and outspent the Republican National Committee.

Third, outside groups explicitly taking Obama’s side — super-PACs, 527s and PACs — have spent more than the outside groups on Romney’s side.

Obama would have everyone believe otherwise. “We’re getting outraised,” Obama wrote in a typical fundraising email this week. This is only true if you concentrate solely on the month of June, when Romney’s $105 million beat Obama’s $71 million.

Regardless, it doesn’t take a genius to notice the change in tack and tone being undertaken by Obama’s campaign — the days of Hope and Change are long gone, and the desperation is starting to show. His own record is a sham, so it’s down to distorting the heck out of Mitt Romney’s, even if it takes relentless contortion, misinformation, and shamefully lazy populist appeals that lower the national dialogue. Of course, successful campaigns are quite normally about smearing your opponent to some degree, but as Rep. Paul Ryan said this morning, “This is not the Barack Obama of 2008 and it’s really kind of sad that we’re at this juncture.” Here’s hoping the American people don’t fall for it again.