Continued from page 1

Mr. Obama laced his remarks with references to Christmas and the holiday spirit.

“Send your senators a message,” he said. “Tell them, ‘Don’t be a Grinch. Don’t vote to raise taxes on average Americans during the holidays.’”

Before his speech, Mr. Obama stopped by the home of Donna and Patrick Festa Sr., where he discussed the family’s difficulty in planning to pay college tuition for their two children, now in high school.

Later in introducing Mr. Obama to the Scranton High School crowd, Mrs. Festa, a graphic designer, said she and her husband, a third-grade teacher, had expressed their concerns to the president about the economic inequality in the nation right now. “We support our president’s efforts to create family-sustaining jobs,” she said.

Pennsylvania is critical to Mr. Obama’s re-election chances next year and the northeast part of the state provided him in 2008 with his strongest margin outside of Philadelphia.

While Mr. Obama pressed for a payroll tax cut, the speech was peppered with political attacks and contrasts between his agenda and vision for America and what he viewed as that of the Republicans. Several times during the speech, he blasted Republicans for rejecting his calls to pay for the tax-cut expansion with a surtax on millionaires.

“Are you going to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class or are you going to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires?” he said. “Are you going to ask a few hundred thousand people who have done very, very well to do their fair share or are you going to raise taxes for hundreds of millions of people across the country?”

Later Wednesday evening, Mr. Obama planned to travel to donor-rich New York to raise money for his campaign.