President Barack Obama congratulated Paul Ryan Sunday for being selected as Mitt Romney's running mate, but cut short the plaudits to blast the Wisconsin congressman's economic proposals.
"I know him. I welcome him to the race," Obama said at a fund-raiser in Chicago. "Congressman Ryan is a decent man. He is a family man. He is an articulate spokesman for Gov. Romney's vision. But it's a vision that I fundamentally disagree with."
In a statement on Saturday, Obama's campaign manager called Ryan's budget proposals -- plans to shrink government through deep spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs, while protecting tax cuts for the rich -- "radical". On Sunday the president tried to drive home the idea that the Romney-Ryan ticket would be bad for ordinary Americans.
"My opponent and Congressman Ryan and their allies in Congress, they all believe that if we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and we give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans it will lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody else. That is what they are proposing," Obama said. "That is where they will take us if they win. This is not speculation. It's on their websites and embodied in the budget that the House Republicans voted for repeatedly."
Romney's campaign responded to the president in a statement Sunday, saying Obama was running a "fear and smear campaign."
"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan bring new ideas about creating jobs and controlling the budget. President Obama's campaign has accused Mitt Romney of committing crimes and killing people, and now they are attacking Paul Ryan. They have lost all credibility," Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams wrote.
Obama's remarks came as he criss-crossed his hometown of Chicago Sunday for five events -- including a high-dollar fundraiser at his house in Hyde Park -- that have the potential to pull in millions for the Democratic incumbent's campaign, which has been outraised by rival Republicans for the past three months.
In total, an Obama campaign official said Sunday's fundraisers are expected to bring in an estimated $3.5 to $4 million, though the campaign said they will not release official totals.
Obama begins his day at a roundtable event in downtown Chicago, where supporters paid $40,000 per person to attend, according to a campaign official. From there Obama heads to a fund-raiser designed for younger supporters, each of whom will pay $51 to attend. That event takes place at the Bridgeport Arts Center, a collection of studio and gallery space south of Chicago's downtown.
Next is an event at Obama's home in Chicago's Hyde Park, where he'll deliver remarks at a campaign event. Sunday marks the first time Obama has opened his Chicago home for a campaign fund-raiser in his bid for re-election, and the event was billed as a birthday party for the president, who turned 51 last week.
Tickets to that fund-raiser cost $40,000 per person, but the campaign did run a contest offering a pair of tickets to the event for grassroots supporters.
"We'd like to give grassroots supporters an opportunity to join in the fun. You guys deserve it, and I know Barack would personally love to see you there," first lady Michelle Obama wrote in a fund-raising email. "Barack's birthday is one of the last opportunities he'll get for a little downtime before the final weeks of the election."
Obama then heads to two private residences for events. The first, at a home also in Hyde Park, cost $5,000 to attend, and the other -- his final event for the day -- cost $1,000 per ticket.
Like most of Obama's fund-raisers, money raised from Sunday's events will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.
Romney's campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, raised $101.3 million in July, while Obama and the Democrats brought in $75 million. July marked the third month in a row in which the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee together were outraised by Republicans.
From Chicago, the president sets off on a three-day swing through Iowa, holding events in Council Bluffs, Boone, Oskaloosa, Marshalltown, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Davenport.
Polls show Iowa, where Obama won 54% of the vote in 2008, is a toss up this time around. The last poll taken in Iowa, an NBC News/Marist survey taken in May, showed Obama and Romney each polling at 44%.
Iowa is in many ways symbolic for the president. It's the state that launched his successful campaign for the Democratic nomination five years ago, breathing new life into what had been seen at the time as a long-shot bid for the Oval Office.
It has just 6 electoral votes, but it's a state the campaign is hoping to keep in the blue column in what is expected to be a close election.