President Barack Obama wrapped up a two-day campaign swing Tuesday night by setting the stakes of the November election in dramatic terms for voters in the nation’s largest battleground state.
Mr. Obama told a packed, and raucous, house in the Jackie Gleason Theater that the next president and Congress will face a set of economic decisions that will impact the country for at least another generation.
Mr. Obama also delivered, as he did in every speech through four states, a lengthy defense of his record, including his controversial health-care reform law. In doing so he challenged his audiences, saying whether these accomplishments are maintained depends on them.
“I believe health reform was the right thing to do,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, just days before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the signature achievement of his first term. “That’s what I believe, but it’s up to you. You decide.”
The president’s trek hauled in an estimated $5 million for his re-election campaign. Every stop he made except one, a rally in New Hampshire, was a fundraiser.
The trip as a whole showed the president has no intention of backing down from attacks on presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s tenure at the private-equity firm Bain Capital. Mr. Obama, who has come under criticism from some members of his own party for such attacks, used Mr. Romney’s Bain experience – in particular reports that he oversaw deals that shipped jobs overseas – as a launch-pad into what he says is the former Massachusetts’ governor’s economic vision.
That vision, as summed up by Mr. Obama, is essentially a two-point plan: roll back regulations and extend Bush-era tax cuts on top of a new $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy.
“So when Mr. Romney says he’s some financial wizard who can fix our economy, that’s how he intends to do it,” Mr. Obama said.
The Romney campaign disputes Mr. Obama’s characterization of Mr. Romney’s economic plan, of course, as well as reports that the former governor had a hand in shipping American jobs overseas.
Mr. Obama’s Romney attacks engaged his crowds, but several themes were consistently his biggest applause lines. They offer a glimpse of what pieces of Mr. Obama’s record Democratic audiences may find most appealing heading into November.
Women: By far his biggest applause line was when a reference to women’s health. “You can decide whether we should restrict access to birth control or de-fund Planned Parenthood, or we can make a decision that in this country, women control their own health choices,” Mr. Obama said, eliciting a standing ovation in Boston.
Declaring his candidacy: A close runner up. Any time Mr. Obama said “and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States” – and he said it repeatedly – the audience got on its feet.
Don’t ask don’t tell: The president’s mention of his effort to end the policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving in the military riled up the base. But he steered clear of spotlighting his support for gay marriage.
Ending the wars: “My opponent thinks that it is tragic that I ended the war in Iraq the way I did,” Mr. Obama told donors in Weston, Mass. And in Boston he said, “You can decide whether we keep our brave men and women in Afghanistan indefinitely, as Mr. Romney proposes, or whether we stick to the timeline that I established that allows us to finally bring our troops home.”
The speech in Miami wrapped up a day of political bickering between the Obama and Romney teams over the president’s ribbing Bostonians about a trade from their Red Sox to his beloved White Sox, Mr. Obama seemed to hit the right note in congratulating the Miami Heat for winning the championship.
Except it sounded a lot like he said “Miami Heats.”