Speaking to about 120 people at a dinner held at the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Obama called Akin, who is seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., "an individual who sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology but somehow missed science class."
Akin, who opposes abortion, has drawn intense bipartisan criticism for saying women have natural biological protections against impregnation by rapists. He said he misspoke and has apologized but has defied calls from Republican Party leaders -- including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- to leave the race.
Obama said Akin was "representative of the desire to go backwards instead of forwards and fight fights that we thought were settled 20 or 30 years ago."
The small crowd included a number of former NBA stars -- such as Bill Bradley, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Walt Frazier -- prompting the president to say it is "very rare I come to an event where I'm like the fifth- or sixth-most interesting person."
Earlier in the day in Las Vegas, Obama hit education themes for a second straight day, pushing for increased funding.
Obama addressed a crowd at Canyon Springs High School to address elementary and secondary education a day after focusing on funding for higher education.
"We all understand there is nothing more important to our country's future than the education we give our children," Obama said to applause. "Nothing more important."
Obama noted his sister is a teacher and said he knows education begins at home, but government has to do its part, he said, to provide the funding to enable districts to hire and retain great teachers.
"If we want America to lead in the 21st century, we've got to give all our children the best education possible," he said.
Obama triggered a chorus of boos in noting congressional inaction -- led by presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- on legislation that would have helped states hire and retain tens of thousands of teachers.
"Now, not only is that unfair to our kids, it's foolish for our future," He said.
"Now, my opponent in this election doesn't seem to understand this. Mitt Romney says we've got enough teachers. We don't need any more. The way he talks about them, it seems as if he thinks these are a bunch of nameless government bureaucrats that we need to cut back on -- those are his words. And his economic plan certainly would do that. The plan Governor Romney has put forward would cut America's investment in education by nearly 20 percent" to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.
Before addressing the crowd, Obama met with a group of three teachers.