September 25th, 2011
07:51 PM ET
(CNN) - In a fund-raising pitch in Seattle, President Barack Obama implored his supporters to rally behind him once again, saying that helping secure his re-election is the best way to turn around a sluggish economy and overcome strident political opposition.
"We are tougher than the times that we live in, we are bigger than the small politics that we've been witnessing," he told the audience at the city's Paramount Theatre. "We are a people who write our own destiny, and it is fully within our power to write it once more."
Obama took the stage after being introduced by basketball hall of famers Lenny Wilkens and Bill Russell, the latter imploring the crowd that "as Americans, we must support our president."
Wearing a tie and button-down shirt with his sleeves rolled up, the president began by referring to the "once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis" facing the nation, saying his administration knew "it was going to take years" to rebuild. The fundamental choice now, he argued, was to go forward with his and fellow Democrats' plans or use the "old worn-out ideas that were tried in the last decade."
"The question is not whether this country is going through times, the question is where are we going next," Obama said. "We can build the America that we talked about in 2008, an America where everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share. That is what this election is about."
The president touted initiatives such as the auto industry bailout, financial reform and the recent official repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that means gay men and lesbians can now serve openly in the military, a mention that drew fervent cheers from the crowd.
Then, as he has repeatedly since proposing it about two weeks ago, Obama touted the America Jobs Act as key to bolstering the economy by helping small businesses, boosting public education, improving infrastructure and other components.
He reiterated his support for tax reform that would pay for the bill, in part, by having wealthier Americans and profitable large corporations pay more in taxes. He added that he felt it is the government's responsibility to act immediately, and not wait for voters' decisions in November 2012 to act.
"It's time for us to meet our responsibility for each other right now," the president said. "(Citizens) don't have the luxury of us squabbling for another 14 months."
The speech came about six hours after Obama landed in Washington state late Sunday morning. He soon thereafter headed to a fund-raiser at the Medina, Washington, home of Jon Shirley, a former president and chief operating officer of Microsoft. In brief remarks there, he told the attendees that the upcoming campaign will be tough, especially in a climate in which many are disillusioned with government.
It is part of a West Coast trip that includes stops for fund-raisers - some at the homes of wealthy supporters - and town hall events in California and Colorado.
The president's job approval numbers remain low, just as the 2012 campaign is starting to heat up. A USA Today/Gallup poll released last Wednesday - based on a survey of 1,004 adults, and with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points - found that 53% of the respondents blamed Obama a great deal or moderate amount for the continued economic sluggishness. The previous week, a CNN/ORC International poll showed Obama had a disapproval rating of 55%, the highest of his presidency, mirroring other national polling from Gallup and NBC/Wall Street Journal.
His current West Coast swing serves multiple purposes, from raising money for what promises to be a bruising campaign and continuing the drumbeat for Congress to approve the American Jobs Act. In numerous recent speeches, he has implored Congress to pass the bill in order to help jumpstart the economy.
One of his stops Monday will be at the Fig and Olive, a restaurant on Los Angeles' trendy Melrose Place, for a private fund-raiser co-hosted by financial investment officer John Emerson, consultant Andy Spahn, Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, a Democrat with knowledge of the event told CNN. A ticket to this fund-raiser costs $38,500.
The tour ends on Tuesday in the swing state of Colorado, with a speech by Obama at Denver's Abraham Lincoln High School.
–CNN's Lesa Jansen and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.