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Obama Draws Contrast With Republicans in Pitch to Voters

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June 27 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama, seeking to regain his footing with U.S. voters, argued that his economic priorities are aligned with the interests of middle-income Americans while Republicans in Congress are ignoring them.

Citing his own experience as the son of a single mother and a struggling college graduate, Obama told a Minneapolis audience today that he understands the concerns of families, which he hears about in conversations around the country and in the letters he receives daily.

“Those stories are stories I’ve lived,” he told the crowd in a Minneapolis park. “They’re not distant for me.”

Republicans, who he blamed for blocking a rise in the federal minimum wage and an extension of unemployment insurance, “just don’t know what folks are going through,” Obama said.

Obama’s speech included the arguments he’s pushing on behalf of Democrats in the midterm congressional elections, playing up the contrast between his policies and those of the Republican Party.

Obama is traveling with Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken, who is running for re-election. The state is friendly territory for Obama, who won there with 53 percent of the vote in 2012 and 54 percent in 2008.

Minimum Wage

It also is one of the state’s that’s taken on one of his economic objectives: raising the minimum wage. Minnesota is raising the rate gradually, to $9.50 an hour by 2016 and then indexed to inflation. Obama wants Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. Lawmakers so far have ignored his plea.

Obama said that “even basic, commonsense ideas can’t get through this Congress.”

While Obama highlighted gains in employment and the housing market during the recovery from the recession, he and the Democrats are confronting dissatisfaction with the economy.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans said they’re unhappy with Obama’s economic stewardship in a June 6-9 Bloomberg National Poll compared with 51 percent in October 2010. Almost two-thirds think the country is on the wrong track.

While in Minnesota, Obama helped raise money for Democratic congressional candidates. Last night, he was the guest of honor at a fundraiser hosted by Sylvia and Sam Kaplan, Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to Morocco until 2013.

About 60 supporters attended. They contributed as much as $32,400 per couple for a VIP reception, photo with the president and dinner to benefit U.S. House Democrats.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Minneapolis at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net Joe Sobczyk

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