West Palm Beach, Florida (CNN) – In his first big trip of the second fund-raising quarter, President Barack Obama hauled in at least $1.75 million at three fund-raisers in Florida on Tuesday.
At all three campaign events - and during his one official event at Florida Atlantic University - the president told supporters that this election will feature one of the starkest contrasts in history between any two candidates running for president.
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At a lunchtime event, the president spoke at the private residence of former Raytheon Aircraft CEO Hansel Tookes in Palm Beach Gardens. Roughly 60 guests paid at least $10,000 a person to attend the event, and the president stuck mainly to familiar campaign themes.
"Our goal has not just been to make sure we didn't go into a depression, our goal is how do we build on the successes that are necessary for us to compete in this 21st century economy that's going to be tougher than ever," Obama said, after going through a list of his administration's accomplishments.
As he would do many times throughout the day, Obama used his lunchtime address to outline the competing campaign visions.
"The Democratic vision is one that says that free market is the key to economic growth, that we don't need to build government just for the sake of expanding its reach. But there are certain things we have to do - whether it's investments in education, or basic science and research, or caring for the most vulnerable among us and creating an effective safety net," Obama said.
The Republican vision, according to the president, is one that wants to "dismantle government investments" and invest solely in tax cuts for wealthier Americans.
Obama struck similar chords at a fund-raiser in Hollywood, Florida, later Tuesday evening, where he corrected an enthusiastic crowd chanting "four more years," by saying, "it's actually four and a half."
The crowd of 850 gathered at the Westin Diplomat hotel was treated to a musical performance by R&B star John Legend before the president arrived. Some paid as little as $250 for tickets as part of the Gen44 fundraising group of younger donors, while others paid at least $500 for admission.
The president was interrupted briefly during his half-hour speech as the lights aimed at the stage flickered and then began swirling. The president joked that the crowd might also be enjoying a "light show" in addition to a presidential fund-raiser.
Again, Obama warned the crowd of the dangers of the Republicans' vision for America.
"The economy is getting stronger, the recovery is accelerating, and the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the same, worn-out, tired, uninspired, don't-work policies that got us into this mess in the first place," Obama said.
Speaking directly to his younger audience, Obama addressed the "economic imperative" of attending college.
"Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt right now, which means by the way Congress needs to stop the student interest – the interest rates on student loans from doubling which is scheduled to happen in July," Obama said. "And colleges and universities have to do their part. They've got to keep tuition from going up."
Before his evening event at the Westin, Obama dropped into a fund-raiser held by his campaign's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leadership council. According to a campaign official, the event cost $2,500 to attend and featured senior campaign and DNC officials briefing approximately 50 supporters on the administration's efforts on behalf of the LGBT community. The president took photos with attendees but did not deliver any remarks.
In the evening, Obama attended his highest-dollar fund-raiser of the day, addressing roughly 60 people who each paid $15,000 for a dinner at the seaside home of lawyer Jeremy Alters. Alters joked that the president's visit to his home had driven Rick Santorum out of the GOP presidential race, but Obama largely stuck to his script from earlier in the day.
The president told supporters that the country had come a long way since his election three years ago, but he still had more work to do, and to secure his re-election in 2012, they would have to work even harder than they did in 2008.