CHICAGO, June 2 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the 2012 election provides "probably as sharp a contrast between two candidates as we've seen in a very long time"
During brief remarks at a fundraiser at the Chicago home of investment firm owner Jim Crown, the president mentioned several issues on which presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney "has a different view" than he -- including comprehensive immigration reform, women's health and environmental protection.
"There are going to be a lot of issues involved because we have probably as sharp a contrast between two candidates as we've seen in a very long time -- substantively," Obama said.
"Now, obviously so much of that debate is going to be colored by the fact that we've had an unprecedented crisis, something we haven't seen at least since the 1930s," he said. "And [Friday's] job report reminds us that for all the progress we've made, the world economy is integrated and it's still fragile.
"But the truth is, is that the steps we took back in 2009 and 2010 have helped to stabilize this economy. It is growing. We've created more than 4 million jobs, more than 800,000 in the last few months alone. And if as we work with other countries in Europe but also in Asia to try to restore a sense of stability in the world economy, then I have no doubt that we can continue on a path of growth."
Obama said the debate is about more than solving immediate crises, but also about longer-term approaches to education, energy and the environment.
"And there are going to be all kinds of distractions over the next five months, but I cannot wait to have that debate," Obama said.
The president also attended a fundraiser at another private home in Chicago, where he said, "This is going to be a close, election; this is going to be a tough election."
During a speech to a campaign rally at the Chicago Cultural Center, Obama said: "Now what we've got is not just a nominee but a Congress and a Republican Party that have a fundamentally different vision about where we need to go as a country. "Look, I believe they love this country. The nominee, he's achieved great personal success, seems to have a wonderful family -- God bless them. But the vision that he has for this country, like the vision that Republicans in Congress have for this country, is exactly the vision that got us into this mess in the first place."