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Obama in Re-Election Fundraising Push; Republicans Look to Next Contests

March 17, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama is focusing on his re-election campaign Friday with high-priced fundraisers, while Republicans who hope to unseat him are looking ahead to the next party nominating contests.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, is attending five fundraising events in two U.S. cities — two in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and three in Atlanta, Georgia.

At an event in Chicago, where a campaign official said the tickets started at $2,500, the president criticized Republicans, saying they support policies that would hurt the middle class and those fighting to move up into the middle class. He said the election comes at an important time for the country.

“We've got an opportunity to build on all the work that we've done over the last three years. And the question is, 'Are we going to be able to stay on track and move in the right direction?' Because the other side, they've got an entirely different idea. Their basic theory is that we go back to doing things the same way we were doing them before the crisis hit, promoting the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

Mr. Obama travels on to Atlanta for events including a gala at film producer Tyler Perry's studio, featuring a performance by Grammy-winning singer Cee Lo Green. General admission costs $500, while VIP tickets range from $2,500 to $10,000. Later, a dinner at Perry's home will raise $35,800 per guest — the combined maximum an individual can contribute per year to a candidate and national party committee under Federal Election Commission rules.

On Thursday, the president's campaign released a 17-minute video on his first term in office. The film includes interviews with former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and the president himself, and highlights Mr. Obama's challenges and accomplishments. Republicans have dismissed the video, “The Road We've Traveled,'' as propaganda.

Mr. Obama's Republican rivals are looking to win over voters ahead of several nominating contests. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney campaigned Friday in Illinois, ahead of the state's primary on Tuesday. He was also campaigning in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, which holds its caucuses on Sunday.

Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum campaigned earlier this week in Puerto Rico, sparking outrage when he said Puerto Ricans would have to speak English for the territory to become a state. The island recognizes Spanish and English as official languages. There is currently no U.S. law making English the nation's official language.

On Friday, Santorum was turning his attention to Missouri, and later holding several rallies in Illinois. Missouri has its caucuses Saturday.

The former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, was campaigning Friday in Louisiana, which has its primary on March 24, while U.S. Representative Ron Paul has no events scheduled.

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