President Barack Obama breezed through metro Atlanta on Friday on a pair of missions: to raise campaign cash -- lots of it -- and to rally the faithful.
The Democratic incumbent appeared successful, judging by the size, and the enthusiasm, of the crowd gathered at Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta.
Obama, who also held a pair of fundraisers in Illinois earlier Friday, was feted at three events over about five hours in Georgia: a $10,000-per-person reception at a home near Morningside, a gala at the studios, where the minimum ticket was $250, and a party at Perry's mansion near Vinings for those willing to part with $38,500.
Reporters were allowed to witness Obama's brief remarks to the crowd at Perry's sprawling 200,000-square-foot studio. Obama on Thursday launched a more aggressive phase of his re-election bid, slamming the Republicans running for his job during a speech in Maryland. In Atlanta, he wasn't quite as direct, but he still made his case for four more years.
"The recovery is accelerating, our economy is getting stronger," Obama said. "We’re moving in the right track. What we can’t do is go back to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place."
At the home near Morningside, Obama pointed to the changes in the Republican Party since his election, noting that his opponent in 2008, Sen. John McCain, did not dispute the ill effects of climate change, opposed the use of torture and had supported immigration reform. Describing the GOP of today, he said, "Their basic vision is, ‘I got mine, everybody else can fend for themselves.' "
While Obama railed against the GOP, Georgia Republicans were giving it right back. Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart called Obama "out of touch."
“At a time of 8.3 percent unemployment, $15.5 trillion in debt and soaring gas prices, the ‘campaigner-in-chief' has once again opted to forgo the burdens of responsible governing and instead host lavish fundraisers," she said. "For a president that claims to fight for the middle class, his posh fundraising attempts seem to be anything but."
Obama's appearance in the state Friday could stoke Democrats' hopes that he plans to fight for the state in November. In 2008, he lost Georgia to McCain by 5 percentage points.
His campaign has said it sees potential here but admits that the bulk of its attention will be in places such as North Carolina and Virginia, both of which Obama won in 2008.
That makes sense, said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who described the state as more competitive in 2008.
"My sense is that the Republicans are energized far more than they were four years ago to defeat this president," he said, "and I've talked to a lot of independents who say they can’t go there again."
Obama, however, offered no indication that Georgia is on, or off, his electoral map.
"If you’re willing to get back to organizing, if you’re willing to get on the phone and email and tweet and knock on doors and do what needs to be done, if you feel the same passion and same energy and determination that I do, and I’ve felt it more now than I’ve ever felt it in my life," he said, "then I promise you we will finish what we started."
Just after 11 p.m., Obama departed Atlanta aboard Air Force One.
--Staff writer Marcus K. Garner contributed to this article.
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