BOCA RATON, FL -- President Obama used a Tuesday speech to not only push legislation enacting the so-called "Buffett Rule," but also outline his vision for the economy versus Republican presidential rivals.
Obama's speech to students and others at Florida Atlantic University contained heavy campaign overtones, though Obama said his Republican opponent -- likely Mitt Romney, after Rick Santorum suspended his campaign this afternoon -- "shall go unnamed."
Before he arrived the crowd did the wave, chanted “four more years” and voiced disappointment when the president of Florida Atlantic University walked out to speak before the Obama. It created an electric crowd for the president, and contributing to the campaign-lite atmosphere for the event.
“They're doubling down on these old, broken down theories. Instead of moderating their views even slightly, instead of saying, "You know what, what we did really didn't work and we almost had a second Great Depression, and maybe we should try something different," they have doubled down,” the president said.
The speech was billed as an official event, though the political implications of Obama's remarks were clear. The president is also attending several fundraisers during his trip to Florida.
And while the President also didn’t mention Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) by name, there was no mistaking the dare he presented when talking about the proposed budget cuts in Ryan’s plan.
“If you hear them saying, well, the president's making this stuff up, no, we're, we're doing the math. If they want to dispute anything that I've said right now, they should show us specifically where they would make those cuts ... They should show us,” he said.
He also criticized Republicans for “doubling down on a lot of these broken down theories” that he said were proven not to work during the administration of his predecessor George W. Bush.
In fact, it wasn't until toward the end of his remarks that Obama mentioned the Buffett Rule, the ostensible purpose of the speech. The rule stipulates that each household earning over $1 million per year should face a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent.
“It’s time for us to choose which direction we want to go in as a country. Do we want to keep giving those tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett -- he definitely doesn't need them, or Bill Gates?” Obama asked.
Even before the president concluded his speech, the Republican National Committee was taking Obama to task for not actually mentioning the Buffett Rule during a Palm Beach campaign stop earlier in the day “that was filled with wealthy Democrat donors,” as an RNC memo put it.
“Between Obama ignoring the Buffett Tax during his first event in Florida and the headlines below -- it hasn’t been a good day for the Buffett Tax. Seems like the Buffett Tax is only a good talking point if you aren’t holding out your hand for big money checks,” the memo continued.
But the president hardly seemed deterred by the Republican criticism leading into the speech, rousing the crowd with a repetitive turn of phrase toward the end of his remarks.
“Here in America we look out for one another. Here in America we help each other get ahead. Here in America we have a sense of common purpose. Here in America we can meet any challenge. Here in America we can seize any moment. We can make this century another great American century," he said.