President Obama charged Sunday that the GOP vision of government would "fundamentally cripple America," as he tried out his newly combative message on the liberal West Coast.
Aiming to renew the ardor of Democratic loyalists who have grown increasingly disenchanted with him, the president mixed frontal attacks on Republicans with words of encouragement intended to reinvigorate the faithful as the 2012 campaign revs up.
"From the moment I took office, what we've seen is a constant ideological pushback against any kind of sensible reforms that would make our economy work better and give people more opportunity," the president said at an intimate brunch fundraiser at the Medina, Wash., home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.
About 65 guests were paying $35,800 per couple to listen to Obama at the first of seven fundraisers he was holding from Seattle to Hollywood to San Diego on Sunday and Monday. The three-day West Coast swing, ending Tuesday in Denver, offered him the chance to try to reassure some of his most liberal and deep-pocketed supporters.
The trip comes as Obama has shifted from focusing on compromise with Republicans on Capitol Hill to calling out House Speaker John Boehner and others by name. The president has criticized them as obstructionists while demanding their help in passing his $447 billion jobs bill.
The revamped approach is a relief to Democratic activists fed up by what they viewed as the president's ceding of ground to the GOP on tax cuts and other issues while the economy has stalled and unemployment is stuck above 9 percent.
Obama said 2012 would be an especially tough election because people are discouraged and disillusioned with government, but he also said he was determined because so much is at stake.
The GOP alternative, Obama said, is "an approach to government that will fundamentally cripple America in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. And that's not the kind of society that I want to leave to Malia and Sasha," he said, referring to his daughters.
Obama got a friendly welcome from invited guests at his first stop. But elsewhere, liberal activists were making plans to greet the president with demonstrations criticizing his policies or reminding him that they want him to do more.
"We want to see Obama stand up as strongly as he can to fight for the people of this country who are working out there to make ends meet," said Kathy Cummings, communications director for the Washington State Labor Council. The council was helping organize a demonstration outside Seattle's Paramount Theater, the site of an Obama fundraiser later Sunday.
Obama and the Republican presidential candidates are working overtime to raise campaign cash ahead of an important reporting deadline Friday that will give a snapshot of their financial strength. Obama's West Coast visit was heavy on fundraisers: two each in Seattle and the San Francisco area Sunday, followed by one in San Diego today and two in Los Angeles.
The expected haul from all seven events: $4 million or more.
In addition to the fundraising, Obama scheduled a town hall-style event today in Silicon Valley, hosted by social networking company LinkedIn. The trip ends Tuesday with a speech to supporters in Denver, where he accepted the Democratic nomination three years ago.