Speaking at an evening fundraiser at the Jeremy Alters residence in Golden Beach that also was attended by Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte, N.C., where the Democratic National Convention will be held in September, Obama said even before the economic crisis hit there had been a decade of sluggish growth in jobs and wages for "ordinary people."
"That sense of middle-class security -- the sense that if you worked hard you could get ahead, support a family, send your kids to college, retire with dignity and respect -- that sense of security had been slipping away for too many people," Obama said. "And the goal in 2008 was to make those changes, to get rid of those obstacles, to reform systems that had had problems for decades so that middle-class Americans and people who aspire to get in the middle class would once again have a chance."
"What we've been fighting for," he said, is for everyone to have "a fair shot" and for everyone to do "their fair share" with everyone "playing by the same sets of rules."
In an appearance earlier in the day at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Obama said with the economy now recovering from recession, "we've got to ask ourselves a central, fundamental question as a nation: What do we have to do to make sure that America is a place where, if you work hard, if you're responsible, that that hard work and that responsibility pays off."
Obama went through the list of cuts proposed in the House, including research funds for clean energy and other programs and singling out the GOP attack on Medicare, which would turn the program into a voucher system.
"If the voucher isn't enough to buy a plan with the specific doctors and care that you need, you're out of luck," Obama told students. " And ... by about 2050, at a time when most of you will have families of your own, funding for most of the investments I've talked about today would have been almost completely eliminated altogether."
Obama compared Republican economic proposals to a failed science experiment.
"If experiment fails badly, you know, you learn from that. Right? I mean, the -- sometimes you can learn from failure. That's -- that's part of the data that teaches you stuff, that expands our knowledge, but you don't then just keep on doing the same thing over and over again. You go back to the drawing board. You try something different.
"But that's not what's been happening with these folks in Washington. A lot of the folks who were peddling these trickle-down theories, including members of Congress and some people who are running for a certain office right now … they're doubling down on these old, broken down theories."
Earlier at a private fundraiser, Obama told the crowd he draws a line between himself and those who want his job.
"This election will probably have the biggest contrast that we've seen maybe since the  Johnson-Goldwater election -- maybe before that," Obama said.
"The Republicans in this race, they've got a fundamentally different idea," he told a small crowd who paid at least $10,000 to attend the private affair at a home in Palm Beach Gardens.
"Their basic deal is that if they dismantle government investments in infrastructure or clean energy research, or education, if they give it all away in tax cuts to folks like me and some of you who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, that that somehow makes America stronger."
Obama said, "I fundamentally disagree. That's not how our middle class got built. ... Our greatness as a nation has always been because we rise together and we have a broad-based prosperity, and we build a middle class where everybody who wants to work hard, everybody who's willing to put all their effort into it -- they can make it, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, what their last name is."
The president asked supporters "to exhibit the same kind of enthusiasm and energy and passion as you did back in 2008. ... It may not be as fashionable to be on the Obama bandwagon as it was back then. But my determination is undiminished, and the need for your involvement is as important as ever. ... I'm confident America's best days are still ahead."