Obama turns 50th birthday into campaign fundraiser

CHICAGO Thu Aug 4, 2011 9:24am EDT

1 of 6. President Barack Obama is greeted by singer Jennifer Hudson at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) event at the Aragon Entertainment Center in Chicago, August 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama turned his 50th birthday into a 2012 campaign fundraising bonanza on Wednesday, buoyed by a hometown crowd after what he called a frustrating period locked in a debt battle with Republicans.

Obama made clear in remarks to a big audience at a music auditorium and in a videoconference with supporters scattered across the country that he will now focus on trying to spur job growth now that the debt debate is behind him.

The debt battle ended on Tuesday when Obama signed compromise legislation reached after painstaking negotiations that barely averted a government default.

"This last week was a frustrating week," said Obama, who turns 50 on Thursday.

He used the conflict over debts and deficits to tell his supporters that Democrats and Republicans have deep divisions over economic policy and that the November 2012 presidential election, "in some ways may be more important than the last one."

In the just-ended debt dispute, Obama agreed to $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over a decade but Republicans refused his demand that tax increases be included in the package.

Returning to the campaign trail after a month spent locked in debt talks, Obama used his appearances to defend his economic record, saying he inherited severe challenges from Republican President George W. Bush, including an economy that was worse than he and his aides had realized.

The United States is suffering under a 9.2 percent jobless rate and economic growth has slowed to a crawl. The debt crisis that brought the country to the brink of default has also contributed to a sagging stock market.

Obama said he knew the challenges he faces were not going to be solved overnight.

"We know we've still got a lot of work to do on the economy," he said. "I hope we can avoid another self-inflicted wound like we've seen over the last couple of weeks, because we don't have time to play these partisan games."

The warm welcome he received from a crowd of 2,400 who heard performances from musicians Jennifer Hudson and Herbie Hancock was a balm for the president's wounds. His job approval rating is in the low 40s, near the lowest of his presidency.

"It doesn't matter how tough it gets in Washington because I know you've got my back," he said, his voice rising to a shout as the crowd roared. "I know we will bring about the change that all of us believe in."

Obama addressed supporters via videoconference in cities across the country which held birthday parties in his honor

"We're in for a long battle," he said.

(Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (11)
btrask3 wrote:
Weren’t we all snookered when we voted for CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

He is no different than any arrogant, incumbent, corrupt, career politician.

Guess we’re getting the same ole same ole ….

When will we ever learn, you can’t trust a snake oil salesman! Buyer beware!

Aug 03, 2011 12:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
0ldRNCowboy wrote:
Did he really use the tired old, “it’s Bush’s fault” standby excuse for his administration’s failings? Are we seeing a preview of Mr. Obama’s campaign strategy based on the tired old blame game?

Its funny Mr. Obama’s administration is still following and continuing the policies and programs initiated by Bush administration.

How can anyone still believe this empty suit has even an iota of leadership? Let’s face it, how big of a loser does an incumbent have to be to start his re-election campaign almost a year and a half before the election? Pay attention people. Every decision Mr. Obama makes from this point forward should be afforded the utmost scrutiny. A candidate this desperate will put his personal agenda first and the well being of the country second.

One thing is for sure, Mr. Obama certainly cannot stand on his record of accomplishments to guarantee him a second term.

Aug 04, 2011 1:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
twilli15 wrote:
I have always thought that when things get tough. When others are distracted and task saturated. Leaders somehow rise to the top. They do not get held down like most of us. They find a way and then make it happen. They do not make excuses (i.e. Its not my fault. The economy was screwed up and given to me like this). When people around them act carelessly a leader will step in and bring them back to reality. They don’t stand there and say “This should not have taken so long” or “This has been a frustrating week”. Oh really. Frustrating how? How can it be frustrating when you have been given the keys to the country and sit right behind the wheel right there in the drivers seat? Its sad to see the guy at the top, kicking the can down the road, saying how frustrating it is. The President does not get frustrated. He gets answers. I am sure being President is a tough job. One of the reasons why is because you are expected to make the tough choices. Popular or not. You have to play the hand you were delt. Sitting there complaining about the cards will get you no where. I am no genius but I would imagine that if your economy is having trouble standing on its own two feet the last thing you want to be doing is causing self-inflicted harm to it. Its not like everyones livelyhood is attached to the economy. Right? When a President fails to lead is he really a President? I do not really need someone to tell me how bad things are or how tough a week we just had. I am pretty sure folks out there that are without work or who have lost their homes have a pretty good idea how tough it is. Is what has happened Obama’s fault? No. Is what will happen Obama’s fault? No. Its our fault for giving him a job that seems to be outside his skill set. After giving him the job and a softball is tossed to him like this debt ceiling issue and he whiffs on it then a few days later goes out to a place and gives a campaign speech it makes me wonder. Really? You just got an F. We just got the report card on you and it has a big fat F on it. F for failure. Failure to lead. Failure to do your job. Failure to represent us. With the ink on the report card barely dry you come to us with a campaign speech??? You have to be kidding me. In my opinion you should be grounded. Put in time out. Whatever you want to call it. Instead you offend me by standing there talking about your “Change” about the “partisan games” then say “We are in for a long battle”. Sir. The battle began the minute to took the job and it will not end until your last day in office is over. Or at least that is how it should be. Battling for us. Maybe you forgot about that part. Maybe your foucus is on the battle to save your job and not the battle to represent us.

Aug 04, 2011 1:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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