CHICAGO (AFP) – US President Barack Obama accused Republicans of wanting to turn the United States into a "Third World" country as he rallied support for his reelection campaign.

The attack came a day after Obama savaged Republican budget plans and unveiled his $4-trillion deficit reduction drive that aims to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to preserve key social services......The debate over fiscal policy will prove critical to the 2012 campaign and Obama sought to frame it as a "stark choice" between investing in the future or watching the country fall apart.

"Under their vision, we can't invest in roads and bridges and broadband and high-speed rail," Obama told a select group of the Democratic faithful at the second of three fundraising events in his hometown of Chicago...."I mean, we would be a nation of potholes, and our airports would be worse than places that we thought -- that we used to call the Third World, but who are now investing in infrastructure."
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Republicans plans to shrink the reach of government is "not a vision that's impelled by the "That's what this budget debate is going to be about. And that's what the 2012 campaign is
Analysts predict Obama -- who raised a record $750 million ahead of the 2008 election -- will build a billion-dollar war chest this time around.
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Money won't be enough to win, senior advisor and 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe told a crowd of 2,300 supporters gathered in a ballroom at Navy Pier ahead of Obama's speech...."If only the people who normally vote in presidential elections vote in this election it will be too close," Plouffe said as he urged supporters to get more people involved in the campaign.

"You've got to get these people to get involved and to vote so we can make sure that we succeed in this election."...Obama established his 2012 campaign headquarters in Chicago, the first time a presidential reelection campaign was not based in Washington.

He told supporters it was so the campaign would be "rooted in your hopes and rooted in your dreams" instead of influenced by Washington pundits and powerbrokers....Obama reminded the cheering crowd of the sense of hope and possibility they felt when they celebrated his election as the first African American US president in Chicago's Grant Park.

"And yet, even as we celebrated -- you remember what I said back then? I said our work wasn't ending, our work was just beginning," Obama said..........."We've still got business to do. We are not finished....."We've got to reclaim the American dream for all Americans. That's the change we still believe in."......Barring a dramatic turn, no major adversary from within his party is likely to challenge Obama, who turns 50 in August.
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