President Barack Obama made a swing through Miami Beach on Tuesday evening to pursue two re-election campaign goals: raise money from well-heeled donors and lure Hispanic voters — on this night, with a little salsa music.
Both efforts are crucial for Obama, whose campaign has spent the past few days warning that it might be outspent by Republican rival Mitt Romney and aggressively courting Hispanic voters who could decide the election in swing states, including Florida.
Obama appeared at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater after pop star Marc Anthony, who sang with a 16-piece band for the crowd of about 2,300 before the president made his entrance, without the singer.
Obama spoke for about 35 minutes, framing the election not as a report card on his first term but as a choice of ideologies on how to heal the fractured economy.
“We understand how much work we have left, but the debate in this election is not whether we need to do better,” he said. “The debate in this election…is about how do we do better.”
He also gave a shout-out to the NBA champions Miami Heat, saying, “You guys earned it.”
The fundraiser was part of a two-day campaign trip for Obama, who was expected to raise more than $2.3 million on Tuesday alone in two events in Atlanta and two in Miami.
Looking to spur would-be donors, the president and his advisors have noted that Romney and Republican-leaning political action committees known as super PACs are on pace to rake in more cash than Democrats and Obama. An email the president’s campaign sent supporters on Tuesday said Obama “will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far.”
Obama is particularly trying to shore up support among Hispanics, whose excitement for the president dwindled after he failed to deliver promised immigration reform and stepped up his administration’s deportations of immigrants who are in the country illegally. Earlier this month, his administration announced it will allow hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to remain and seek work.
“They are Americans through and through — except for their paperwork,” Obama said at the Fillmore, to a standing ovation. Romney has called for a long-term immigration solution and has said he wants to provide a path to U.S. citizenship to people who serve in the military.
In Miami Beach on Tuesday, Obama didn’t mention the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision a day earlier to uphold a portion of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which allows police to ask anyone they stop for papers showing their immigration status. The court also struck down several of the law’s other provisions.
The high court is expected to rule Thursday on Obama’s healthcare law, which he touted as helping to expand insurance coverage and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. Romney said on Tuesday that if the legislation is overturned, Obama will have “wasted” his time in office.
Obama said he is focused on bringing back jobs that have been moved overseas — a jab at Romney, whom the president’s campaign has tried to characterize as an “outsourcer.”