By Alexander Mooney, CNN White House Producer
Portland, Maine (CNN) — President Barack Obama wrapped up an afternoon fundraising swing through the northeast Friday, declaring his Republican opponents have a go-it-alone attitude that threatens to permanently stifle the country’s middle class.
“They would gut things that we’ve always believed is at the core of making America great – education, science, caring for the most vulnerable.” the president to chants of “four more years” in a packed Portland, Maine gymnasium. “They are wrong.”
“The idea that you would keep doing the same thing over and over, even after it’s proven not to work, that’s the sign of madness,” he also said of Republican-backed economic policies.
Obama listed the accomplishments his campaign intends to emphasize between now and November, including the bailout of the auto industry, equal pay for women, and drawing down the war in Iraq. The president also praised his most controversial action just days after it was contended before the Supreme Court, the institution of universal health care.
“Change is the health care reform act we passed after a century of trying,” he said without noting it’s in danger of being declared unconstitutional by the high court. “We believe that in America, nobody should go bankrupt just because they got sick.”
The remarks before a boisterous crowd of nearly 2,000 supporters at Southern Maine Community College is to be followed by a smaller private fundraiser at the Portland Art Museum. Admission to the larger event cost young supporters $44 to attend while most paid at least $100 to gain admittance. The private fundraiser meanwhile is expected to draw 130 supporters who each paid at least $5,000.
“With your help we wont just win another election,” Obama said. “We will remind the world why the United States is the greatest country on Earth.”
His visit here followed a short visit to Vermont, another reliably-blue state in modern presidential election history that rarely get much attention from candidates during the general election campaign. But Maine is one of two states (the other being Nebraska) that award electoral votes on a proportionate basis and has the potential to be pivotal in a close race.
Together with 2 events earlier the day in Vermont, Obama is expected to haul in well over $2 million for his reelection effort before he heads back to Washington.
The events come a day before the Obama campaign closes the books on their first-quarter fundraising haul, often used as a barometer of grass roots support and donor enthusiasm. The president’s fundraising so far this year has significantly outpaced that of Republicans but lags behind he record amount he amassed at this point for years ago.
The campaign has already said president raised $74 million for his reelection effort in January and February, nearly $20 million less than his total for the first two months of 2008. Obama campaign officials have shrugged off the fundraising drop, noting it’s traditionally more difficult for incumbent presidents to raise money among smaller donors. His heated primary battle against now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that year also helped keep donors interested.
Obama was introduced by Richard Schwartz, a local power plant engineer who said he would be unemployed without the aid of certain programs in the president’s stimulus bill.
“That determination to do what it takes, that spirit of Richards exists all across America,” the president said. “Although we are starting to make progress, we still have two many folks out of work.”