Monday, November 14, 2011

Obama girds Hawaii supporters for 2012 fight

US President Barack Obama told supporters in his home state of Hawaii that everything they fought for in his 2008 election triumph was in the balance in the 2012 race.

Obama took a day to raise money for his reelection campaign and to relax by playing golf after he hosted a regional summit on Sunday. On Tuesday the president's entourage heads off to Australia to continue an Asia-Pacific tour.

"Everything we fought for in the last election is now at stake in the next election," Obama told around 250 people who had paid from $1,000 to attend the campaign brunch at a Disney resort in Hawaii.

"The very core of what this country stands for is on the line. The basic promise that no matter who you are or where you come from, what you look like, that you can make it in America if you try -- that vision is on the line."

Obama also defended his landmark health care legislation on a day when the Supreme Court said it would consider the constitutionality of the law following a series of legal challenges by Republican state officials.

The president said the law passed last year will finally ensure that people cannot be bankrupted by high costs for medical care when they get sick.

"It provides everybody protection, so that if you get sick, if you have a preexisting condition, you can still afford to get health insurance -- you'll still have access to quality care," he said.

The Supreme Court agreed to consider a request by the Obama administration to declare the measure constitutional as well as two cases challenging it.

The president, who has endured a crisis-strewn tenure of nearly three years in the White House, said that he had predicted that bringing about change would be hard, but that his supporters should not give up hope.

And he accused his Republican opponents of using the need to compete with low-wage economies like China as an excuse to gut worker protections back home.

"The Republicans in Congress and these folks on the campaign trail, they think the best way for America to compete for new jobs and businesses is to follow other countries in a race to the bottom," Obama said.

"Since places like China allow companies to pay low wages, they want to roll back the minimum wage and the right to organize here at home.

"We're not going to win the competition in the Asia Pacific region by seeing if we can have the lowest wages and the worst pollution. We can't win that race."

Obama leaves for Australia on Tuesday for a visit which will highlight 60 years of strategic ties between the two nations.

He is expected to announce a significant escalation of military cooperation that is likely to see US Marines stationed in Darwin -- a geo-strategic shift that recognizes the emergence of regional superpower China.

Obama will hold talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and make an address to parliament in Canberra before heading to Darwin and becoming the first US president to visit the Northern Territory.

The president will then move onto Bali, Indonesia where he will become the first US leader to attend the East Asia summit next weekend.


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