Politicking in his boyhood home, President Barack Obama told supporters Monday that everything they worked for and that the country stands for is on the line in his 2012 re-election bid, warning of a bleak America should a Republican win.
At ease in Hawaii, where he was born and vacations each year, Obama sprinkled his standard campaign speech with personal memories and called himself the "hometown kid." But his message turned urgent in trying to get his backers to think of the next election as a choice between a vision of a big country of opportunity or one where regular people lose their voice.
"You kept up the fight for change long after the election was over, and that should make you proud," Obama said inside a lush resort on the western side of Oahu. "It should make you hopeful. But it can't make you satisfied."
He added: "Everything we fought for in the last election is now at stake in the next election. The very core of what this country stands for is on the line."
Obama made time for domestic politics and the constant demand for cash amid a nine-day trip otherwise dominated by foreign affairs. He was enjoying a lighter schedule on Monday after hosting an Asia-Pacific economic summit of 21 nations over the weekend, and before heading to Australia Tuesday morning. Obama was also was to visit Indonesia before a Nov. 20 return to Washington.
As he raised money for his re-election bid, the president sought to defend his record of change as more than a campaign slogan. Obama reminded his audience that he has presided over the return of the American auto industry, financial help for college students, higher fuel efficiency for cars and more.
When it came to noting his signature health care law, Obama spoke of expanded and improved coverage for Americans but made no mention of Monday's move by the Supreme Court. The high court promised a full review over the constitutionality of the historic health care overhaul, likely in time for a ruling just before the presidential election next November.
The president spoke inside the waterfront Disney-themed Aulani Resort to a relaxed crowd of about 250 people at the fundraising brunch, where tickets started at $1,000 per person.
Obama said Republicans want to engage in a "race to the bottom" with other countries, rolling back wage protections and environmental standards. "Their attitude is, 'Let's go ahead and pollute," Obama said.
As for his promised change, he said he still needs time: "It takes more than a single term. It takes more than a single president."
The president promised that his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, would be back in Hawaii for the winter holidays as usual. "Let's see if Washington gets its business done so I can get here as well," he said.
Following the fundraiser, the president headed for a round of golf at a course on a nearby military base. Among his golfing partners was childhood friend Bobby Titcomb, who was arrested and pleaded no contest earlier this year to soliciting a prostitute.
A court agreement allowed the charge to be stricken from Titcomb's record last month because he stayed out of trouble for six months.
Titcomb attended Punahou School in Honolulu with Obama in the 1970s. The two have often played golf and basketball and headed to the beach together when the president has been back in the islands on vacation.
"The president has been a friend of Bobby's since childhood — and remains loyal to him as Bobby confronts some difficult challenges in his personal life," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.