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President Obama speaks about the economy, Wednesday at Cheesman Park in Denver. / Brennan Linsley, AP

DENVER, Colo. ‚?? Reminding the audience of his first job in an ice-cream shop, President Obama on Wednesday bucked up the nation's middle class, calling for economic and energy policies that will increase wages and employment.

Under sunny skies in the city's central Cheesman Park, the president joked about staying for a picnic instead of traveling to Texas, where he was to meet with Gov. Rick Perry on immigration. The president arrived in Denver on Tuesday evening to meet with constituents who wrote him letters, and to raise money for Senate Democrats, including Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado. Udall, however, remained in Washington, D.C. for a vote, a move mocked by his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep Cory Gardner.

"To me, the only story that matters is your story. And I am here to say that this country does not succeed when just a few at the top do well and everybody else is treading water," Obama said to an invitation-only crowd of about 600. "America does better when the middle class does better, when folks who work hard can afford to buy what they make and provide for our families and leave something better for our kids."

He added: "Our economy grows best from the middle out."

Partisan bickering over Udall's would-he, would-he-not attendance dominated headlines prior to the president's speech, which Colorado Republicans called "lonely" because so few of the state's top elected leaders appeared publicly with him. The president on Tuesday night ate dinner with five constituents and also played a private game of pool with Gov. John Hickenlooper at the brewpub the governor founded before entering politics. "You should not ask him who won," joked the president.

Udall is locked in a tough re-election fight against Gardner, who has been trying to tie the incumbent to the unpopular president. While the president didn't mention Udall during his Cheesman Park speech, Obama lavished praise on him during a private fundraising lunch.

"The only difference between President Obama's campaign speech today and every other one he has given was that Sen. Udall wasn't standing by his side," Gardner campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano said in a statement. "Sen. Udall has been more than willing to follow the president on everything from health care and gun control to energy and out-of-control government spending. Make no mistake about it, a vote for Sen. Udall is a vote to reinforce President Obama's old and tired policies."

In his park speech, the president repeatedly criticized Congressional Republicans for what he called their obstructionist ways. Even as he called for both sides to work together to improve the middle class, Obama attacked Republicans for instead supporting CEOs and corporations. The president's speech drew repeated applause and cheers from the friendly crowd, although it lacked the energy of a true presidential campaign rally.

"Republicans in Congress right now have shown over and over they'll do anything to rig the system for those at the top or to try to score political points on me, even if the obstruction keeps the system rigged against the middle class," Obama said. "The best thing you can say for them this year is they haven't yet shut down the government or threatened to go deadbeat on America's obligations. But it is still early, so‚?¶"

After the morning speech, the president spoke at the Democratic fundraiser where ticket prices topped out at $30,000, and then flew to Texas to meet with Perry.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: In Denver, Obama stumps for Dems he never mentions by name

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