MILWAUKEE --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.