Speaking at a fundraiser in Medina, Wash., at the home of, Jeff Brotman, the chairman and co-founder of Costco Wholesale Corp., the president said Democrats and Republicans have "fundamentally different visions about the direction where our country is going."
Obama said Republicans "are not willing to balance our budget, even if you've got a 10 to 1 deal, spending cuts to tax increases."
"We've got a party that denies climate change even exists rather than debates how do we best address it," he said. "We've got a party that, when it comes to foreign policy, seems to only talk about military adventures and never seems to talk about how can we create a diplomatic climate that allows the world to organize itself to ensure mutual security and prosperity.
"Across the board, I have not seen in my lifetime as stark a choice as we've got in 2012," he said.
Obama said the 2012 election is "for all the marbles right here."
"Because the Bush tax cuts are going to expire at the end of this year and whoever is the president is going to shape what our tax policy is, and how we reduce our deficits and how we maintain fiscal stability for the next 20, 30 years," he said.
"I'm optimistic that the American people want common sense," Obama told the audience. "I'm optimistic that the American people want balance. I'm optimistic the American people don't want to just think about the next election -- they want us to think about the next generation. But we're going to have to fight for that."
At a fundraiser later in the day in Seattle, Obama told an audience of supporters the U.S. economic recovery "is accelerating."
"America is coming back -- which means the last thing we can do is go back to the same failed policies, the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. And that's what's at stake in this election."