President Barack Obama held three fundraising events at the Franklin Institute in Center City Tuesday afternoon.
Starting at 6:10 p.m., Obama held a roundtable for 25 attendees at $40,000 a seat. This was followed by a speech given at a fundraising reception for approximately 500 people, tickets starting at $250 a piece. The reception pre-program included City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Mayor Michael Nutter, Rep. Bob Brady, Rep. Chaka Fattah and Sen. Bob Casey. Before his return to Washington, he delivered remarks at a dinner held for 75 attendees for $10,000 a person. All proceeds went to the Obama Victory Fund.
In his speech, the president emphasized the progress that has been made in the last four years and presented reasons why the Republicans’ propositions were a threat to moving forward.
Throughout his speech, Obama emphasized he is running for president of the United States to ensure that “We’re not going backwards, we’re going forwards,” citing the main theme of his campaign. He elaborated upon the progress his administration made upon pressing issues, such as the rebuilding of a strong middle class, the improvement of education and transportation, the development of a socially conscious plan for debt and deficit reduction, ending the war in Iraq and going after al Qaeda and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
On the other hand, Obama also criticized the Republican Party and its presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. “Governor Romney is a patriotic American, he’s got a lovely family and he should be proud of his personal success. But his ideas are just retreads of stuff that we have tried and that have failed.”
According to Obama, the Republican Party has not only been consistently uncooperative with his administration, but also is only offering “to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” referring specifically to the deregulations in the financial sector along with tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
Jennifer Fink, a law student and mother of four, agreed. “My husband is a dentist and we understand that if the middle and lower class do not have discretionary dollars to spend, then we don’t have a practice. We don’t buy into trickle down economics, we live it everyday, we know it comes from the bottom up.”
Obama also underlined the importance of access to education for all, citing reforms to the student loan system in which the role of banks as middlemen was reduced and monthly loan payments were capped. “You can’t just count on the fact that your parents are paying for your college education — a lot of kids need help,” he added.
Eloise Vaughn, a retired educator from Philadelphia, showed similar concerns. “We still need to work on the education of the children and the crime rate because it seems as though our educational system is not doing too well right now.”
Obama stirred emotions from certain members of the crowd. “He’s always inspiring, and it was interesting when he talked in poetry, the crowd was silent,” said Nicholas Boonin, a designer and social activist from New Jersey.
Maya Presson, a rising freshman at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C., said “It was very motivational, especially for families where I come from, who are from the middle-class.”
Although Obama is leading Pennsylvania in the polls, some Democrats are concerned about voter registration. “There are a lot of Philadelphia senior citizens who don’t have I.D. and they’re not going to get I.D., so they become disenfranchised,” said Peter Tucci, a partner in Philadelphia law firm Fox Rothschild LLP.
Ruby Dubose, also a retired educator from Philadelphia, added that “We want people to come out and vote because a lot of people are saying they’re not voting this time.”
Marcel Groen, a delegate of the Democratic National Convention and chair of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County, said Obama has maintained high numbers in Montgomery County and suburban Philadelphia, and his approval rating has consistently stayed around the mid to upper fifties. “We will do very well in the suburbs, I believe that the suburbs, in fact, will be the deciding factor in winning Pennsylvania for him.”
This year’s elections promise to surpass any previous ones in donations and spending given the deregulation of campaign financing. Just last month, Romney and the Republican National Committee raised $77 million and the Democratic National Committee raised $60 million.