The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An animated President Barack Obama vowed Tuesday in Atlanta to give his re-election campaign everything he has and asked the crowd of more than 500 cheering supporters to do the same.
Obama was in town for a pair of fundraisers — and an unscheduled stop at The Varsity. He bounded on stage in a ballroom of the Westin Peachtree Plaza and said the choice in November is between a promise to continue the progress made since 2008 and a return to the policies he said caused the country grief.
Republicans countered that the country’s grief can be traced to the president’s inability to fix the economy.
Following his reception, Obama held a private roundtable with about 20 people. While tickets for the reception started at $500 with a limited number of $250 tickets for younger Democrats, the private roundtable cost $35,000.
“In this election, all of you have an opportunity to choose between two fundamentally different visions of how you grow America. Two fundamentally different visions about who we are as a people and what makes this nation great,” Obama told the larger crowd.
On one side, he said, is Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee. Mere mention of Romney’s name brought a chorus of boos from the crowd, leading Obama to — lightly — defend his opponent.
“Mr. Romney is a patriotic American,” Obama said. “He has a beautiful family. He’s been very successful in his life. He has. But his basic vision is one in which if wealthy investors like him … if they’re doing well, then everybody else is automatically doing well.”
That didn’t work the last time, Obama said. He also slammed Romney’s Bain Capital for being a leader in sending jobs overseas.
Bain, Obama said, “was a pioneer in outsourcing jobs to China and India.”
“Some of his advisers explained there’s a difference between offshoring and outsourcing,” the president said, referring to Romney. “Those workers who lost their jobs, they didn’t understand the difference.”
Instead, Obama said he has “a vision that says the way we’re going to grow our economy and put people back to work is make sure every child in America has the best education possible.”
Obama made oblique references to immigration but did not directly address Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s tough new immigration law. Instead, he touted his own decision to build a way for children brought here illegally to stay.
Republicans, meanwhile, said that while Obama may make repeated visits to Georgia to raise money, he has done little to help a state still struggling economically.
“President Obama today doubled down on the same broken promises, failed policies and misleading attacks that are not creating jobs and are not helping the middle class,” Romney spokesman Chris Walker said. “After 3 1/2 years, it is clear that the president does not know how to turn around the economy and is only trying to cover up for his failed record. Americans deserve better.”
Some Obama supporters apparently deserved a chili dog. During his visit to The Varsity, Obama ordered five chili dogs, four hot dogs and a cheeseburger for his traveling staff, Mayor Kasim Reed and Reed’s mother, Sylvia Reed.
“I’m excited to get a hot dog,” Obama told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I hear they are really good here.”
Obama greeted a group of schoolchildren and some military personnel before leaving for his first fundraiser.
Georgia Tech student and Air Force ROTC cadet Michael Evans wasn’t expecting to meet his commander in chief when his parents took him to lunch.
“Somebody asked me if I wanted to meet the president,” a still astonished Evans said.
Evans’ father, Robert, beamed with pride. “He just got his wings, and this is the first person he meets when he comes back to town.”