The latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll Tuesday indicated the Democratic president holding a 49 percent to 43 percent edge over Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is expected to wrap up the GOP nomination at his party's national convention next month in Tampa, Fla. Last month, Obama led 47 percent to 44 percent, still within the poll's margin of error.
While a large-scale general campaign rally scheduled for Portland, Ore., was canceled out of respect for the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre victims and their families, Obama appeared at a fundraiser at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, where he told his audience there are "no quick fixes or easy solutions to some of the challenges we face" but said America has "the capacity to meet every single one of these challenges." He said "a stalemate in which one side has an uncompromising view" is preventing progress.
"They believe in top-down economics," Obama said. "I believe in middle-out economics. I believe in bottom-up economics. I believe we're all in this together."
He reminded his audience the U.S. Senate is to vote Wednesday on "a bill that says that if you earn less than $250,000 a year, your taxes will not go up next year by a single dime" but he said Senate Republicans have "decided apparently that they're not going to let this bill pass" -- preferring "to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage until we also agree to spend another $1 trillion on tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires."
"Now, Governor Romney doesn't just approve of this strategy, he wants to import this into the White House."
The president cautioned supporters that Republicans "will spend more money than we've ever seen on ads, almost all of them negative," because "they can't sell their own ideas."
"Earlier today, Governor Romney was at it again," Obama said. "He has been twisting my words around to suggest that I don't value small business. Now, keep in mind, in politics you have to endure a certain amount of spin. Everybody does it. I understand that. Those are the games that are played in campaigns. Although I have to say, when people omit entire sentences from a speech and they start splicing and dicing, they may have tipped a little bit over their skis. They may have gone over the edge here."
From Oregon, he was to go to a $35,800-a-ticket event at Hunt's Point in Washington state and another event where tickets were $5,000 each.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was asked by reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Portland whether, despite the cancellation of the Portland event, the gloves were off given, Obama's rousing appearance at an Oakland rally Monday night.
Psaki responded by saying that while there is "no playbook" for campaign etiquette following a tragedy such as the Colorado theater shootings: "I will remind you that yesterday, prior to the president speaking last night, Mitt Romney held an event with small business owners where he distorted and ripped apart the president's record. And ... we're not going to stand by and allow that to happen."
Asked whether Obama intends to make gun control a more central campaign issue, given the shooting incident -- and that Romney has spoken out on it -- Psaki said only that the president "hoped that the events in Colorado allows us to reflect on over the coming weeks ... what this means and what we can all do as a country."
Press secretary Jay Carney restated Obama's position that "we can take, common-sense measures that ensure that individuals who should not have weapons under existing law do not get them. And we can take those measures without in any way compromising our Second Amendment rights."
"I would note that the president has long been a supporter of the assault weapons ban, renewing that, and he continues to support that position," Carney added.
Carney and Psaki then took a shot at Romney's foreign policy acumen, saying it would take more than his impending trip overseas to burnish his credentials.
The Obama surrogates delivered a 1-2 foreign policy punch, with Carney first running down the list of 2008 campaign promises Obama has delivered on, and Psaki following by saying "Romney has a very high bar he has not yet jumped over to convince the American people that he wants to have a serious conversation about foreign policy."
"He's now going on a foreign trip, where what we've learned from his schedule is he's going to be doing some fundraising and he has some photo ops," Psaki said. "So as far as we can tell at this point, these several days, which were an enormous opportunity, are not going to help him jump over that bar and convince the American people he wants to have a serious conversation about foreign policy."