US President Barack Obama struck back against his political rivals seeking the Republican presidential nomination, saying they were attacking his economic record without having solid plans of their own.
At a fundraiser for his 2012 re-election campaign in the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, Obama said he was busy “attacking the country’s problems” while his Republican opponents were targeting him.
“I’ve got a day job. I’ve got other things to do. But while I’m working, there are going to be candidates parading around the country. And they’re going to do what they do, which is, they’re going to attack,” he told nearly 800 supporters at a downtown Philadelphia hotel, where tickets were US$100 (62 pounds) and up, Reuters reports.
Obama said he believed voters would come to his side.
“The American people are a lot less interested in us attacking each other. They’re more interested in us attacking the country’s problems,” Obama said.
“They’re less interested in hearing us exchange insults about the past. They want us to exchange ideas about the future. That’s the contest I’m looking forward to, because I know that’s the contest that America needs. And by the way, that’s the contest that we will win,” he said.
Obama won Pennsylvania by a 10 percentage point margin in 2008 but the state is expected to be closely contested next year and is already seeing political traffic pick up.
Mitt Romney, considered the Republican front-runner for the 2012 nomination, slammed Obama’s economic leadership at a news conference outside a closed-down metal factory in Allentown that the president visited in 2009 to say it would benefit from his $821 billion stimulus plan.
Romney’s campaign also issued an Internet ad about the plant closing, including the graphic “Over 100,000 Pennsylvania jobs lost since President Obama took office.”
Later on Thursday, at a fundraiser at the home of Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, Obama also faulted the divisive climate for the hold-up in getting to a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.
While Republicans and Democrats “actually roughly agree on the numbers” by which deficits should be cut before lifting the congressional limit on debt issuance, getting to a deal will require both sides must bend a bit, the president said.
“The truth is, you could figure out on the back of an envelope how to get this done. The question is one of political will,” he told the tony backyard gathering where ticket prices started at $10,000.
Obama also said that given “we’ve got a long, long way to go” before the U.S. economy fully shakes off the recession, it may be tough for his campaign to match its 2008 exuberance.
“Generating the same energy is difficult because we’ve gone through two years of very difficult work,” he said.