CHICAGO — President Barack Obama criticized the newly minted Republican team of Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan during a series of hometown fundraisers Sunday, accusing the pair of trying to sell an economic plan of “trickle-down fairy dust” that doesn’t work.
The Democratic president, speaking publicly for the first time since presumptive GOP nominee Romney tapped the Janesville, Wis. congressman as a running mate, portrayed the Nov. 6 election as a choice between Democrats protecting the middle class and Republicans helping those already wealthy.
The remarks came at one of five fundraisers where Obama was expected to collect at least $6.5 million for his re-election effort.
“Congressman Ryan is a decent man. He’s a family man. He’s an articulate spokesman for Gov. Romney’s vision,” Obama said during his 25 minutes of remarks at Chicago’s Bridgeport Art Center. “But it’s a vision that I fundamentally disagree with.”
When he began talking about Ryan, Obama first said “no, no, no, no” to the boos that came from the crowd of about 1,000 younger supporters at the art center.
“My opponent and Congressman Ryan and their allies in Congress, they all believe that if we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and we give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, it will lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody else,” said Obama of the Republican ticket, which campaigned Sunday two hours north in the Milwaukee suburbs.
“They have tried to sell us this trickle-down fairy dust before, and guess what? It didn’t work,” Obama said, citing House Republican-passed budget plans Ryan authored that the president argued didn’t cut the deficit, create jobs or revive the middle class.
Obama noted Republican opposition a host of his proposals that he said would help move the country forward, including his signature health care reform law and idea of allowing tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush to expire on income above $250,000.
“It has to do with how do we create security for middle-class folks and how do we create ladders of opportunity for everybody,” the president said. “That’s how we’ve always grown this economy.”
While Romney has campaigned against Obama largely on the basis of an uncertain economic recovery and continued high joblessness, the president contended it’s partisanship in the nation’s capital that was keeping the country from moving forward.
“What’s holding us back is a brand of Washington politics that says we are not going to compromise no matter what,” Obama said. “It’s gridlock and stalemates and dysfunction, and it’s an idea propagated by the other side that somehow we’re going to grow this economy from the top down, and that if people at the top are doing really, really well, then everyone else is automatically going to benefit.”
Obama acknowledged that “Chicago, we’ve got a long way to go” to improve economic opportunities and that “too many folks still don’t have a sense that tomorrow will be better than today.”
Still, he said, “Do we go forward towards a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared, or do we go backward to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place? I believe we have to go forward.”
Obama’s speech in Bridgeport was to the campaign’s younger Gen 44 supporters at an event where ticket prices began at $51 in honor of Obama’s 51st birthday more than a week ago. The crowd serenaded him with “Happy Birthday.”
The president also was expected to take in $4 million at a $40,000-per-person event for 100 people in the front yard of his Georgian-style residence in Chicago. It’s the first fundraiser he has held there as president.
Obama told the group that on issues ranging from the economy to women’s health care to eliminating the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians, “Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have a different view.”
The president was expected to raise $1 million at his first event of the day, a downtown hotel reception, and the same amount Sunday night at the nearby home of friend Marty Nesbitt, CEO of a parking facility business.
Another $400,000 was expected to be raised at the final event, a dessert reception at the close-by home of Barbara Bowman, mother of Obama top adviser Valerie Jarrett.
The president was not accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, who campaigned in California and attended a fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of pop star Gwen Stefani. Obama departs Chicago on Monday for a multi-day campaign trip in Iowa.