With a renewed focus on Mitt Romney as his Republican challenger, President Obama is moving aggressively to bill himself as the defender of the middle class and the scourge of corporate privilege.
This approach not only enables Obama to give a populist spin to his re-election campaign, it is also a reminder of traits in Romney that many voters find troublesome. These include his background of wealth and privilege, his experience as a corporate investor, and the perception that he is out of touch with everyday people.
During an appearance at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Obama used the kind of us-against-them rhetoric that his conservative critics call class warfare.
"It's wonderful when people are successful," Obama told the enthusiastic crowd Monday. "That's part of the American Dream. But we have to understand the share of our national income going to the top 1 percent has climbed to levels we have not seen since the 1920's. The folks benefiting from this are paying taxes at the lowest rates in 50 years. That's wrong. That's not fair. We have to choose the direction this country will be going in."
Obama urged support for a bill in Congress that would require millionaires to pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal taxes.
In response, a spokeswoman for Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, said, "President Obama is the first president in history to openly campaign for re-election on a platform of higher taxes. He already raised taxes on millions of Americans but he won't stop there. He wants to raise taxes on millions more by taxing small businesses and job creators."
Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania and Romney's main competitor for the GOP nomination, suspended his campaign Tuesday.