CHICAGO (CBS News) - President returned to his hometown Friday to launch a $5.5-million one-day blitz for his re-election campaign.
At the first of five fundraising events on his schedule today, he took note of his would-be Republican rivals scouring Illinois in advance of Tuesday's GOP Primary.
"And my message to all the candidates is - welcome to the Land of Lincoln - because I'm thinking maybe some Lincoln willwhile they are here," said the president.
The event was billed as a "Lawyers for Obama" luncheon, and a campaign official said 600 supporters paid $2500 a ticket.
Mr. Obama used his speech to slam the field of GOP presidential candidates without mentioning any by name, for advocating the "same policies that got us into this mess in the first place."
He said going back to those Republican policies are "the last thing we can afford to do."
He said the GOP candidates have "a simple philosophy" that we're better off if everybody's left on their own. But he said they won't win with "the same old you're on your own economics."
"It does not work," he said. "In the United States of America, we have always been greater together than own our own."
In the months to come, he said, "we'll have a great debate on whose vision will deliver for the American people."
"This is not just another political debate, it's the defining issue of our time," added Mr. Obama.
After two events in Chicago, one of which was open to press coverage and the 2nd was entirely closed, Mr. Obama headed to Atlanta for three more money events - including one at the studios of actor, director and movie mogul Tyler Perry and another at his home.
It's that last event that the most well-heeled of Mr. Obama's supporters will attend, paying $35,800 per person, the legal maximum of financial aid a supporter can donate to a presidential campaign and political party in a single year.
Today's five events bring to 108 the number of re-election fundraisers Mr. Obama has personally attended since filing for re-election with the Federal Election Commission last April 4.
At the same point in the re-election cycle in 2004, then-Pres. George W. Bush had done only half that number of money events for his successful re-election drive.
And yet, White House spokesman Jay Carney maintains that Mr. Obama "is still spending the vast preponderance of his time on his official duties."
It may seem like the president is spending a lot of time on his campaign, but Carney challenges the perception.
"As a share of time, it is still fairly minimal, said Carney yesterday at his daily press briefing. But he concedes "that percentage will increase as the year progresses, and especially once there is a Republican nominee."
It also costs taxpayers a fortune - even on a day the president's travel is totally political. The Democratic National Committee reimburses the government, but it amounts to a small fraction of what it costs the government when the president travels.
Despite years of requests from CBS News, the White House declines to disclose the formula by which it calculates how much the government must be reimbursed by the president's campaign or political party.
Previous administrations also refused to disclose the reimbursement numbers.