President Barack Obama told campaign donors in a Baltimore suburb and Philadelphia that his policies will give middle-income Americans the best chance to succeed in a competitive economy.
Obama accused his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, of promoting a plan focused on cutting funding for national priorities in education, transportation and research.
“You’ll never see a sharper contrast between the two parties in the vision that they have for where this country needs to go,” Obama told a crowd of Democrats today at a private home in Owings Mills, Maryland.
Obama is raising more than $3 million today in Maryland and the battleground state of Pennsylvania, seeking to maintain a cash advantage over Romney. He held six fundraisers, three in each state, bringing to 160 the number of events to solicit cash for his campaign since he declared his candidacy for re-election on April 4, 2011.
Obama captured Maryland, a reliably Democratic state, in 2008 with 62 percent of the vote. His victory in Pennsylvania was narrower, at 54 percent, making it one of the targets for Romney. After two months of slow job growth that left the national unemployment rate at 8.2 percent in May, the economy is at center stage in the election campaign.
Blame for Economy
“Anytime you have a bad economy, people tend to take it out on the incumbent, whether it’s the incumbent’s fault or not,” former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview. Obama topped Romney 48 percent to 36 percent in a poll released June 6 by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that wide a margin, but I think the president will carry” Pennsylvania by three or four percentage points, Rendell said. “I wouldn’t put it in the tossup category but I also wouldn’t put it in the definite” category for Obama. “I’d say it’s ‘leaning.’”
The Obama and Romney campaigns have escalated the battle, issuing fresh videos playing off the president’s statement on June 8 that “the private sector is doing fine,” later amended by Obama to it’s “absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.”
Obama gave a low-key analysis today of his administration’s efforts to speed up the recovery.
“We’ve been able to right the ship a little bit,” he told supporters in Owings Mills.
He dismissed Republican rhetoric on the economy by saying it could be boiled down to fewer than the 140 characters allowed in a post on Twitter.
“You can pretty much put their campaign on a tweet and have characters to spare,” he said.
He said Romney, co-founder of the Bain Capital LLC private- equity firm, should be “proud” of his business success. Still, Obama said, the presumptive Republican nominee has drawn “the wrong lesson from those experiences:” When those at the top of the economic ladder are doing well it must mean everyone else is too.
For more than a decade, the president said at a second event in Baltimore, “harder work hasn’t led to higher income” for many Americans.
Romney was campaigning today in the swing state of Florida, directing his attacks at the health-care law that Obama pushed through Congress.
“Free enterprise is the way America works,” Romney told owners of small businesses in Orlando. “We need to apply that to health care.”
Obama was raising money today after events in California and New York City last week. He has fundraisers scheduled in Cleveland and New York again on June 14.
Romney and the Republican National Committee said June 7 that they collected more than $76.8 million in May, surpassing the more than $60 million reported by Obama and the Democratic Party. Through April, Obama’s re-election committee had more than doubled the amount raised by Romney’s campaign, $222.3 million to $100.4 million.
Obama’s first stop today was a fundraising lunch at the home of real estate developer Josh Fidler. Tickets for that event, which drew about 100 supporters, ran from $10,000 to $50,000. Later, he attended a fundraiser reception for about 500 people at the Hyatt Regency, where tickets ranged from $250 to $10,000. A third event, closed to media coverage, was held with 15 supporters contributing $40,000 each.
In the evening in Philadelphia, Obama held three fundraisers at the Franklin Institute. After a private roundtable discussion with the president for about 25 supporters contributing $40,000 each, he delivered remarks at a reception with about 500 people, with tickets starting at $250. That was followed by a dinner with 75 people, with tickets at $10,000 per person.
During the reception in Philadelphia, Obama acknowledged that the election will be close “because folks have gone through a tough time” with unemployment and falling home values.
“You’re still frustrated and rightly so,” he said, adding that Romney and Republicans in Congress won’t offer any new policies for spurring the economy. “You won’t see it. It will be the same stuff.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Baltimore at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at email@example.com