Raking in campaign cash, President Barack Obama blitzed through Manhattan Thursday night, offering donors at ritzy fundraisers a vigorous defense of his foreign policy record, saying his administration's successes abroad would weaken one line of Republican attack in the presidential election.
"The other side traditionally seems to feel that the Democrats are somehow weak on defense. They're having a little trouble making that argument this year," Obama told supporters at a $35,800-a-person dinner at ABC Carpet & Home.
From ending the war in Iraq to ordering the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the president said his approach to foreign policy was based on the belief that "there's no contradiction between being tough and strong and protecting the American people, but also abiding by those values that make America great."
Despite Obama's assertions, Republican presidential candidates have hardly backed away from criticizing his foreign policy record. GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has said Obama's foreign policy is based on saying "pretty please" to overseas foes. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently criticized Obama for apologizing to Afghan authorities for burned Qurans on a military base, saying the apology was ``astonishing'' and undeserved.
At a separate fundraiser earlier Thursday -- a $5,000-a-person reception -- Obama defended his commitment to Israel's security, particularly amid the turbulence in the Middle East and North Africa, where some long-time leaders having been pushed from power over the past year.
The sweeping changes, he said, make foreign policy in the region more complex. "It used to be easier to deal with one person who was an autocrat when it came to knowing who you could strike a deal with," Obama said.
With the region's leadership structure changing, Obama said the U.S. would have to take into account the "politics and the attitudes of people in the region,: some of which he acknowledged were anti-Israel.
Before raising money in New York, Obama focused his political sights on snowy New Hampshire, where he demanded that Congress eliminate oil and gas company subsidies that he called an outrageous government giveaway.
Obama has previously identified tension with Iran as a main reason for rising oil prices, but this time he ad-libbed the remark about how the prospect of a reduction in the supply of oil is making the markets nervous.
Before his fundraising events in New York, Obama attended fundraisers in New Hampshire. During his last campaign visit to New York, he famously sang a few bars from Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at the Apollo Theater.