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Published: Monday, 9/26/2011

Obama rolls out campaign on West Coast

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE — President Obama charged Sunday that the GOP vision of government would “fundamentally cripple America,” as he tried out his newly combative campaign message on the West Coast.

Aiming to renew the ardor of Democratic loyalists who have grown disenchanted with him, the President mixed attacks on Republicans with words of encouragement intended to buck up the faithful as the 2012 campaign revs up.

“From the moment I took office, what we’ve seen is a constant ideological pushback against any kind of sensible reforms that would make our economy work better and give people more opportunity,” the President said at a fund-raiser at the Medina, Wash., home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.

About 65 guests were paying $35,800 a couple to listen to Mr. Obama at the first of seven fund-raisers he was holding from Seattle to Hollywood to San Diego Sunday and Monday.

The three-day swing, scheduled to end Tuesday in Denver, offered him the chance to re-engage with some of his most liberal and deep-pocketed supporters.

The trip comes as Mr. Obama has shifted from focusing on compromise with Republicans on Capitol Hill to calling out House Speaker John Boehner and others by name.

The President has criticized them as obstructionists while demanding their help in passing his $447 billion jobs bill.

The revamped approach is a relief to Democratic activists fed up by what they viewed as the President’s ceding of ground to the GOP on tax cuts and other issues while the economy has stalled and unemployment is stuck above 9 percent.

Mr. Obama said 2012 would be an especially tough election because people are discouraged and disillusioned with government, but he also said he was determined because so much is at stake.

The GOP alternative, Mr. Obama said, is “an approach to government that will fundamentally cripple America in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. And that’s not the kind of society that I want to leave to Malia and Sasha.”

Mr. Obama got a friendly welcome from invited guests at his first stop.

But later, liberal activists greeted the President with a demonstration.

“We want to see Obama stand up as strongly as he can to fight for the people of this country who are working out there to make ends meet,” said Kathy Cummings, communications director for the Washington State Labor Council.

The council helped organize a demonstration outside Seattle’s Paramount Theater, the site of an Obama fund-raiser with about 1,800 guests. Activists held signs promoting environmental and other causes and urging Mr. Obama, “Tax the rich.”

Mr. Obama and the Republican presidential candidates are working overtime to raise campaign cash ahead of an important Sept. 30 reporting deadline that will give a snapshot of their financial strength.

Mr. Obama’s West Coast visit was heavy on fund-raisers: two each in Seattle and the San Francisco area Sunday followed by one in San Diego Monday and two in Los Angeles.

He’s meeting with the Silicon Valley and Hollywood elite, including an event last night in Atherton, Calif., at the home of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The expected haul from all seven events: $4 million or more.

In addition to the fund-raising, Mr. Obama scheduled a town hall-style event Monday in Silicon Valley, hosted by social networking company Linked­In.

The trip ends Tuesday with a speech to supporters in Denver, where he accepted the Democratic nomination three years ago.

Mr. Obama was pushing throughout for his job proposal, which combines tax cuts, unemployment benefits, and public works spending.

The bill faces a hostile reception on Capitol Hill, particularly because the President wants to pay for it with tax increases opposed by Republicans.

A top aide, David Plouffe, said the White House expects a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate in October.



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