“Atlanta, I am here not just because I need your help — although I do — I’m here because your country needs your help,” Obama said after acknowledging Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, former Gov. Roy Barnes of Marietta and civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery.
Obama was poised to raise $2.3 million with the fundraiser in Atlanta and then in Miami later Tuesday, which followed on the heels of a top-dollar fundraiser in Boston on Monday.
Without naming names or party affiliations, the president said the current fiscal crisis preceded his 2008 election.
“For almost a decade we have seen (the) dream that built the middle class in the most successful economy … slip away,” he said. “We watched surpluses turn into deficits. We have seen two wars fought on a credit card. We’ve seen a few people at the top do really, really well, while more folks were struggling to get by.”
While calling Mitt Romney “patriotic” and “successful,” Obama cast his Republican rival as the type of wealthy investor whose only goal was making money, no matter the cost.
“His basic vision is one in which if wealthy investors like him, folks at the very top, are freed up from any kind of regulations, if they are maximizing their profits, even if they are polluting more, or offshoring jobs or avoiding taxes or busting unions, whatever the strategy is — if they are doing well, then everybody else is automatically doing well,” Obama said.
“It’s going to be a close election because the economy is still tough. Folks are still frustrated. And what that means is you’re going to have more money spent in this election than ever before by the other side on negative ads. They will say, ‘The economy is bad because it’s Obama’s fault.’ They suffer a little bit of amnesia.”
He said his policies are bearing fruit.
“Over time, what we’ve seen is steady progress and steady movement — more than four million jobs created over the last 27 months, more than 800,000 in the last few months alone,” Obama said.
The president called for more investment in education, science, technology, clean energy and business.
“I want to change the tax code,” Obama said. “I want to give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Georgia, right here in Atlanta.”
He asked his audience to get voters to the polls and re-elect him.
“If you do, we will finish what we started in 2008. We will rebuild this economy and rebuild America,” Obama said.
Marina Bryant of Dunwoody said she found the speech an effective call to action.
“I’m so grateful he came to Atlanta to inspire us because we as Americans, as Democrats and as Georgians have a lot of work to do,” she said.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report