Obama shifts from grit to glitz in election-year contrast

Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:37am EDT
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By Laura MacInnis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Talk about a venue change.

Fresh from giving an economic speech in America's industrial Rust Belt, President Barack Obama headlined big-dollar campaign fundraisers at the home of "Sex and the City" actress Sarah Jessica Parker and in a landmark New York hotel.

Obama has shaped his re-election message around appealing to middle-class voters, many of whom continue to struggle to find work and afford their homes years after economic recession hit.

But the Democratic president, like his Republican opponent and candidates before them, is also targeting wealthy supporters to help fill his campaign coffers as he seeks to win a second White House term on November 6.

The contrast was especially sharp for Obama on Thursday.

In a speech at a community college in Cleveland, Ohio, he said that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney would hollow out the middle class with his policies favoring the rich.

Hours later, he was holding court in the elegant dining room of Parker's four-story brownstone in Manhattan's West Village, where 50 guests including actress Meryl Streep and designer Michael Kors paid $40,000 a plate for dinner.

Then he spoke to a $10,000-per-person fundraiser in a lavish ballroom of the Plaza Hotel featuring singers Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys, telling the well-heeled crowd that he was committed to ensuring economic opportunities for all Americans.   Continued...

Pedestrians watch as the motorcade of U.S. President Barack Obama leaves a fundraiser with actress Sarah Jessica Parker in New York, June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford