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Obama, Biden rally House Democrats at annual retreat

President Obama and Vice President Biden on Friday worked to rally congressional Democrats preparing to do battle with Republicans leading into the 2012 election.

In remarks at the annual House Democratic retreat near the shore of Chesapeake Bay, Obama rallied the House Democrats with a campaign-style speech in which he defended Democrats' legislative accomplishments over the past three years, acknowledged that lawmakers have had to make some "tough decisions" and reprised many of the arguments he made in Tuesday's State of the Union address.

"We righted the ship," he said. "We did not tip into a Great Depression. The auto industry was saved. Credit started flowing to small businesses again. And over the last 22 months, we have seen 3 million jobs created, the most jobs last year since 2005 A lot of that has to do with the tough decisions that you took."

Obama left the tough talk to Biden, who earlier Friday delivered searing criticism of GOP leaders and the presidential field. Biden blasted House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. -- as well as GOP presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich -- by name, arguing that Republicans are out of step with the middle class and that their sole goal is to obstruct the White House.

"Boehner, Cantor and McConnell, they made it clear," Biden told the more than 100 Democrats gathered at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. "It's about obstructing the president's agenda. It's about defeating Barack Obama."

Biden said congressional GOP leaders have adopted a "political strategy of obstruction and division" and predicted voters, tired of dissension, will re-elect Obama and return Democrats to the majority in the House.

Their remarks came on the third and final day of the annual House Democratic retreat, where Democrats are gearing up to go on offense against their GOP counterparts as they try to win back the House.

Obama offered a full-throated defense of the ideas laid out in his State of the Union address, arguing that the tax code must be mended to ask the wealthy to contribute more to pay down the debt and prevent deep cuts in military spending.

"Nobody envies rich people," Obama said. "Everybody wants to be rich. Everybody aspires to be rich, and everybody understands you've got to work hard The question is, are we creating opportunity for everybody, which requires some investments, and the question is, how do we pay for that?"

A House Democratic aide confirmed that members presented Obama with a recording of House Democrats singing their own version of the Al Green song "Let's Stay Together," a symbol of their unity.

Obama, who sang a line from the tune at a fundraiser last week at Harlem's Apollo Theater, joked about the recording as he took the stage to give his remarks.

"I believe in you guys," Obama said. "You guys have had my back through some very tough times."