Obama argues against Romney's "top-down economics"

MILWAUKEE (AP) — President Barack Obama

worked to squash GOP hopes for a resurgence of support in pivotal

Wisconsin on Saturday,

pushing back against his GOP rival's arguments against an overly

intrusive government. Mitt Romney countered with his own

pitch to middle-class voters, saying that the president had

fostered a culture of "government dependency" that hinders upward

mobility.

Obama faulted Romney for advancing a top-down economic that "never works."

"The country doesn't succeed when only the folks at the very top are doing well," he said. "We succeed when the middle class

is doing well."

With just six weekends left before Election Day, both men were devoting considerable time to raising campaign cash to bankroll

the deluge of ads already saturating hotly contested states.

Baseball great Hank Aaron, who once wore No. 44 as a player for the Milwaukee Brewers, supplied the star power at Obama's

Milwaukee fundraisers, arguing for the re-election of the 44th president. Romney hunted for West Coast cash, if not votes,

first in San Diego, and was later headed to Los Angeles.

With running mates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan

campaigning in New England and Florida, respectively, the presidential

campaign

was spread far and wide — both geographically and strategically.

Biden revved up union activists poised to canvass for votes

in New Hampshire while Ryan appealed to Hispanic voters in Miami

and talked space policy in Orlando.

It was Obama's first visit to Wisconsin

since February, and the president was intent on shoring up support in

Ryan's home

state. Obama won Wisconsin easily in 2008 but Ryan is popular here

and recent polls have Obama up by single digits. The GOP

showed its organizational strength in fending off efforts to

recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but Obama campaign manager

Jim Messina said Democrats "continue to have a strategic

advantage," with more field offices and political infrastructure

in the state.

Obama made the case against Romney before a

crowd at the Milwaukee Theater, countering Romney's call to change

Washington

from the inside with an appeal to voters to help him break through

partisan gridlock with pressure on Congress from the outside.

He said that despite economic troubles, his administration has

made progress and has made "practical and specific" proposals

to create jobs.

"The choice now is do we reverse this," he said.

Romney, in his weekly podcast, said the government's role should be "very different" from what Obama wants to provide.

"Under President Obama, we have a stagnant economy that fosters government dependency," he said. "My policies will create

a growing economy that fosters upward mobility."

In advance of Obama's visit, Romney's

campaign made the argument that Obama's failure to turn around the

economy had Wisconsin

voters looking for a different path. Walker said the president had

a "Wisconsin problem." The state's 7.5 percent unemployment

rate is below the national average, but its manufacturing industry

has been hit hard in recent years.

The Republican National Committee released a web video, "Since You've Been Gone," highlighting recent GOP organizing efforts

in the state and Walker's success in fending off a recall election there.

Messina saw good signs all over, saying, "We're either tied or in the lead in every battleground state 45 days out. I think

you will see a tightening in the national polls going forward."

Ryan, campaigning in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, reinforced Romney's argument that Obama hasn't been able to make

needed changes in Washington, poking at the president's recent comment that it's hard to change Washington from the inside

without mobilizing public pressure on Congress from the outside.

"Why do we send presidents to the White

House in the first place?" Ryan asked. "We send presidents to change and

fix the mess

in Washington, and if this president has admitted that he can't

change Washington, then you know what? We need to change presidents."

He also faulted Obama for a "policy of appeasement" toward the Castro regime in Cuba, saying all the president had done was

"reward more despotism."

Obama has eased restrictions to allow

Americans to travel to Cuba and to let Cuban-Americans to send money to

family on the

island. But the president has stopped well-short of discussing

lifting the 50-year-old economic embargo, which is widely viewed

in Latin America as a failure and has complicated U.S.

relationships in the region.

Campaign spokeswoman Jenn Psaki said the president had supported democracy movements on the island and worked to give people

there more say in their futures.

In an appearance in Orlando, not far from

Florida's space coast, Ryan criticized the president for putting the

U.S. space

program "on a path where we are conceding our global position as

the unequivocal leader in space." The Obama campaign responded

that Ryan has proposed deep cuts in spending for space

exploration.

Underscoring the importance of grass-roots

efforts in the campaign's final days, Biden rallied union workers at a

Teamsters

union hall in Manchester, N.H., saying their organizing work would

be the "antidote" to millions spent on advertising by

Republican-leaning

super PACs.

Biden said it was because of unions that the

U.S. has a strong middle class, and he accused Romney and Ryan of

having "a completely

different value set, a completely different vision."

"They're doubling down on everything that caused the economic crisis in the first place," he said.

Romney is dedicating most of this weekend to

courting donors in California — a state that he's not trying to win. He

attended

a private fundraiser in suburban San Francisco Friday night and

planned to attend at least two more on Saturday in San Diego

and Los Angeles.

The GOP nominee is feeling fundraising pressure: Last month, for the first time in four months, Obama and the Democratic Party

raised more than Romney and the Republican Party, $114 million to $111.6 million.