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Obama tells Virginia voters: ‘You can choose my plan’

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On his final campaign stop before heading to the Democratic National Convention, President Obama on Tuesday urged Virginia voters to defeat the forces of his opponents "who benefit from an unjust status quo."

At an outdoor rally in Norfolk, Mr. Obama said Republican nominee Mitt Romney is trying to win the election with the help of $10 million contributions from "wealthy donors who like things just the way they are." The president said the goal of his opponents is to suppress Democratic turnout with a blitz of costly negative ads.

"They're counting on you, maybe not to vote for Romney, but they're counting on you to feel discouraged," Mr. Obama told a crowd of about 11,600 at Norfolk State University. "And they figure if you don't vote, then Big Oil will write our energy future, and insurance companies will write our health care plans, and politicians will dictate what a woman can or cannot do when it comes to her own health. Those who oppose change, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, they're always betting on complacency and cynicism of the American people."

The Romney campaign and its allies, meanwhile, pressed their attack against Mr. Obama by trying to tie him to the politically fatal, Jimmy Carter-era question that Democrats are having trouble rebutting: Are people better off than they were four years ago?

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki defended the president giving himself an "incomplete" grade on the economy in a recent interview.

"I think what an incomplete means is that there's more work that he wants to do for the middle class and for the American people," she told reporters traveling with the president. "The alternative is to go back to the old playbook of failed policies and failing grades, and that's what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to do. I think an 'incomplete' and a desire to do more is far better than a failing grade."

Countered Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, "The only two incumbent presidents who could not tell Americans that they are better off than they were when they took office are Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter. Gas prices are through the roof, our trade deficit is too high, spending is out of control, and unemployment is at record-high levels. President Carter was right — 'We are at a turning point in our history.' We need to fire President Obama, hire Gov. Romney, and get our country turned around."

Mr. Obama made his 14th campaign stop in Virginia on Tuesday in his all-out effort to win the state he captured four years ago. It was his final campaign rally on a tour of four battleground states — the others were Iowa, Colorado and Ohio — as he makes his way to the Democratic convention Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. He will accept his party's renomination Thursday night.

The president told Virginia voters that they have a choice in the election between two very different paths.

"You can choose their path, give massive tax cuts to folks who've already made it," Mr. Obama said. "Or you can choose my plan. I want to keep taxes low for every American who's out there still trying to make it. But that will be up to you. It'll be up to your vote."

The president wants to raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year to help pay for higher spending on college aid, veterans services and other programs. Mr. Romney favors extending Bush-era tax cuts for all wage earners, as well as cutting corporate taxes.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman said Mr. Obama's policies are failing Virginians.

"Whether it's the president's devastating defense cuts, opposition to bipartisan proposals for offshore drilling in the Commonwealth, his war on coal, or job-destroying policies, President Obama has found himself on the wrong side of the issues Virginians care about the most," said spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.

Mr. Obama said voters must reject the Republican's wealthy allies, whom he said are betting against the middle class.

"Throughout America's history, they've always lost that bet," the president said. "And I think they're going to lose that bet this time, too."

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