MIAMI BEACH — President Barack Obama put his second-term appeal to the test Wednesday in Boston and Florida, seeking to boost Democratic candidates as a fundraiser and a political drawing card even while trailed by controversies over government intrusion.
In Massachusetts, the president rallied for a Democratic Senate candidate who has challenged phone and Internet surveillance under Obama's administration. As he raised campaign cash for his party in Florida, he attracted protesters upset over the surveillance programs, Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups and the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Each stop lends Obama's proven ability to energize Democrats to the party's cause this year and next, with control of Congress and Obama's second-term agenda at stake. But the visits also create opportunities for Republicans eager to link their Democratic opponents to the Obama administration's recent troubles.
Fundraising for the Democratic Party at a lavish home in Miami Beach, Obama said he was pleased by a pair of successful procedural votes on the immigration bill Tuesday that passed with broad support from both parties. But his tone remained plainly partisan as he told Democratic donors they're part of a movement whose core principle is that everyone in America should have a chance at success.
"That's us. That's what the Democratic Party is all about," Obama said. He added that he was willing to work with Republicans who are open to compromise but that "it would be a whole lot easier" if Democrats had solid majorities in both chambers of Congress.
About 50 supporters paid between $1,000 and $32,400 — the legal maximum — to attend the dinner with Obama in Miami Beach, and 175 or so more donors attended a reception at a nearby home Wednesday evening. Greeting him with a kiss at the airport and accompanying him to both stops was Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman known for mincing no words in attacking her party's GOP opponents.
Democratic officials say Obama has agreed to headline at least 20 party fundraisers in and out of Washington. The aggressive schedule has seen Obama campaign so far this year in California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Georgia. He raised $3.25 million for House Democrats on a single day in April in San Francisco.