President Obama Ramps Up Campaign, Holds Boston Fundraisers

May 18, 2011 7:18pm

ABC News Seniboye Tienabeso reports:

 

As the list of GOP contenders vying for his job becomes clearer, President Obama continued his push to shore up his campaign war chest with two Boston fundraisers this evening.

“Back in 2004 I gave a speech here that got some attention, and it’s been downhill ever since,” President Obama joked, referring to the famous 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that helped launch his national political career.

In his 30-minute speech tonight, President Obama not only reminded the crowd of what he says has been accomplished during his first term, but also gave hints of how he may try to convince voters to give him a second chance.

“All of us can remember that night in Grant Park… I said this is not the end, this is the beginning. This is the start of a steep climb,” said Mr. Obama. “It’s turned out to be a little steeper than expected.”

The President pointed to healthcare, Wall Street and student loan reform, but above all he touted his stewardship over the economy during the Great Recession.

“Some of the things folks said would not work, worked. GM is hiring all its workers back. But we still got some climbing to do. You can’t put away those hiking shoes.”

He lashed out at Republicans in Congress who fought off a Democratic attempt to remove $4 billion in oil subsidies to major oil companies, saying they did it “at a time when they are making tens of billions in profits and you are struggling to fill your tank. Instead of investing in yesterday’s energy we should be investing in the energy of tomorrow.”

He told supporters what he would and would not support as the tough fight to balance the nation’s budget takes shape. “The budget debate is about who we are. I believe in an America where the government lives within its means…But I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing the things that always made our nation prosper.”

He said he would not sacrifice education, or clean energy initiatives. He added that he would fight to end the tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.

“This is the big thing for Republicans, making sure that millionaires and billionaires keep their tax cuts… The easiest thing to do as a politician is to say you don’t have to do anything. ..If we are going to ask Americans to sacrifice a little bit we can’t tell folks like me that we don’t have to do a thing.”

He ended the speech with the familiar refrain from 2008, "Yes We Can."

Mr. Obama is making two stops in the Bay State. Tickets for the first event at the Boston Center for the Arts, where 900 people are estimated to have attended, went for $200 or more. He was joined there by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as well as Boston Celtics basketball legend Bill Russell and future Hall-of-Famer Ray Allen.

The second event, a dinner, is at the leafy Brookline home of advertising mogul Jack Connors, where 130 supporters will pay $35,800 per couple.

A final tally unclear but the President could raise more than $2 million from both events. 

Massachusetts, which is a Democratic stronghold, has been a gold mine for Democratic fundraisers in the past. In 2008, President Obama won the Bay State by a wide margin. Obama raised around $750 million during his 2008 campaign.

Earlier in the day, President Obama gave a 20-minute commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., where he told the assembled crowd of 1,500 that they should be proud of the “brave military and intelligence personnel who made sure the terrorist leader who attacked us on 9/11 will never do so again."

The President's arrival in Connecticut was delayed briefly as poor weather conditions caused Air Force One to miss its first landing attempt at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport.

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