President Barack Obama raised money from supporters in the Pacific Northwest yesterday as he and his campaign organization retaliated against Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s attacks.
Obama, on a three-day swing through five states, planned to collect at least $6.3 million in California, Oregon and Washington over two days, including four fundraisers yesterday in Portland and a Seattle suburb. He’ll raise more money in Louisiana and speak to the National Urban League today.
In Portland, Obama criticized Romney and “his allies” in the Senate for plans today to block an extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts for those with incomes of less than $250,000. Obama wants those cuts to expire for people with incomes above that amount after Dec. 31.
“Republicans have decided they’re not going to let this bill pass,” affecting 98 percent of Americans, Obama said. “They’ve decided to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage. We tried this. It didn’t work. It’s not what most Americans, regardless of party, believe what will grow the economy.”
The Democrat’s campaign also released a television ad in six swing states aimed at parrying the presumptive Republican nominee’s accusation that Obama is hostile to business.
“We are not going to stand by while Romney slices and dices, deliberately takes out of context the president remarks on businesses,” Jen Psaki, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, told reporters on Air Force One as the president traveled to Oregon.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that if the election were held today, 49 percent of registered voters would vote for Obama and 43 percent would vote for Romney. That compares with a June survey of 47 percent for Obama and 44 percent for Romney.
After weeks of attacks, negative ratings were rising, according to the poll. The president was viewed positively by 49 percent of voters, while 43 percent viewed him negatively. Those figures compare with 48 percent to 38 percent in June.
Romney’s was seen positively by 35 percent of voters, while 40 percent had a negative opinion. Twenty-four percent of those polled viewed him “very” negatively. The poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted July 18-22 and had an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
With voters focused on the economy, Romney has been spotlighting a remark Obama made in a July 13 speech that, “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” The president had just referred to what he called “this unbelievable American system” that, through tax dollars, provides school teachers and roads and bridges.
At his appearance yesterday in Portland, Obama said Romney has been “twisting my words around to suggest that I don’t value small business.” When people “omit entire sentences from a speech, and they start splicing and dicing, they may have tipped a little bit over their skis,” the president said.
The latest Obama campaign video, set for broadcast in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, has the president looking directly into the camera and saying that ads “taking my words about small business out of context, they’re flat out wrong.”
At a fundraiser in Hunts Point, Washington, outside Seattle, Obama told supporters that while he tolerates a lot of criticism in politics, he has no patience for those who say he “wants to criticize success. I want to promote success.”
“We want success” in business, he said. “We just want everybody to have a shot” as they play by rules that are fair. He urged donors to rally support for the campaign in the last 106 days, “not that I’m counting.”
The fundraiser was one of two held at the home of Jim Sinegal, retired chief executive officer of Costco Wholesale Corp. In one event about 20 people paid $35,800; in the other, 200 people attended with tickets starting at $5,000, the Obama campaign said in an e-mail.
Obama was to wrap up his trip today with two fundraisers in New Orleans and an address to the National Urban League, one of the nation’s largest civil-rights organizations.
The group, preparing for the Nov. 6 elections, said in a study July 17 that a decline in AfricanAmerican voter turnout in 2012 could tip the presidential election outcome in the critical swing states of North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
“In 2012, if the African-American voter turnout rate in every state declines to 60 percent, which was the national voter turnout rate for African-Americans in 2004, then we estimate: President Barack Obama will not win in North Carolina,” said the study by Madura Wijewardena and Valerie Wilson of the National Urban League Policy Institute in Washington.
The study said the turnout rate for black voters in 2008 was 64.7 percent, the highest it has been for any national election as Obama became the first black elected president.
Obama’s address to the National Urban League in New Orleans follows an announcement yesterday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of a consent decree aimed at forcing reforms of the city’s police department, which has been under scrutiny for corruption and mismanagement for decades.
The agreement requires the New Orleans department to develop new policies and procedures -- including on the use of force, interrogations and arrest -- and overhaul training.
A Justice Department review last year, requested by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, found the New Orleans police engaged in a pattern of “unconstitutional conduct,” including the use of excessive force by officers and illegal searches and arrests.
New Orleans officers practiced racial and ethnic profiling, discriminated against gays and lesbians and repeatedly failed to investigate sexual assault and domestic violence reports, according to the Justice Department.