President Barack Obama addresses attendees during the LGBT Leadership Council fundraising gala, capitalizing in part on his recent decision to support same-sex marriage, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on June 6, 2012. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo
SAN FRANCISCO, June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Democrats and Republicans used to think "about the good of the country and the future" but "that's changed on the other side."
Speaking Wednesday to an audience at a fundraiser in San Francisco, Obama said he and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offer voters "two fundamentally contrasting visions" for America -- and he said Romney and congressional Republicans represent a departure from the GOP of 2008, when he defeated Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the general election.
"The character of the party and the Republicans in Congress had fundamentally shifted," he said.
"And I have to tell you that there was a time when there was a consensus between Democrats and Republicans," Obama told an audience at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. "Republicans might want slightly lower taxes and slightly less spending, Democrats might be more concerned about certain social investments, but there was a general consensus that all of us had to think not just about ourselves but about the good of the country and the future. And that's changed on the other side."
The president said congressional Republicans want to balance the federal budget by cutting taxes for the wealthy while cutting spending on medical research, Head Start programs or Pell grants, or "the kind of infrastructure that will help us -- broadband lines and high-speed rail -- that will help lead us into the 21st century."
He said Democrats "deeply believe in the free markets and we deeply believe in risk-takers and innovators being rewarded" but American prosperity depended on a combination of "rugged individualism" and cooperation.
Obama said Republicans "don't have any new ideas" so they will spend "$500 [million], $700 [million], a billion dollars on negative ads and their simple message will be: 'This is somebody else's fault, and that's enough reason for you to vote for us.' And if we don't answer them, that can work."
Obama then traveled to Beverly Hills, Calif., where he addressed LGBT Leadership Council's 2012 gala and received a prolonged standing ovation.
"I could not be prouder of the work that we've done on behalf of the LGBT community," he said.
The president was introduced at the event by Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a urological surgeon and Army National Guard colonel who served as Chief Medical Officer for the California State National Guard -- and served active duty tours in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, Iraq in 2004 and Germany, treating wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Imbasciani told the audience he hid his sexuality during his military career, including the adoption of two sons with his husband, until the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military was ended.
"I kept their existence secret because that's what the law required," he said. "But not anymore."
"I didn't talk about myself to my patients but in my heart I know that not a one of them would have cared if I were gay or straight," he said.
The president then moved on to the home of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, and was to conclude his round of California fundraisers with a breakfast Thursday at the home of developer Charles Quarles.