CORAL GABLES, Fla. — President Barack Obama implored Democrats on Monday to remember why they sent him to the White House and told supporters that a Republican-led Congress would prevent him from accomplishing his agenda.
"I can only succeed if I've got help," Obama said during remarks at a high-dollar fundraiser at an oceanfront estate in South Florida.
Obama said that while he would like to believe that Republicans would work with him, he's "not optimistic."
With unemployment at 9.6 percent, Obama said he knows Americans are frustrated. But he said the Nov. 2 midterm elections shouldn't be a referendum on where the country is now, but a choice between which party can get the country to where it needs to be.
Relying on a familiar refrain during his campaign appearances this fall, Obama said Republicans have a "lack of ideas" and a "fundamental lack of seriousness" about how to lead the county in the right direction.
Protesters of the military's ban on gay service members stood outside the entrance to the gated community where Obama spoke, holding banners that read "Stop the Discharges Now." Other activists protesting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy boarded a boat within view of the waterfront property, blowing airhorns during the president's fundraising remarks.
While Obama has repeatedly said he opposes "don't ask, don't tell", some activists say he hasn't done enough to repeal the law.
South Florida has become fertile fundraising grounds for the president, having raised money for the state and national Democratic parties here twice before this year. Monday's event was held at the home of former basketball player Alonzo Mourning, and was expected to raise about $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Rep. Ron Klein, who is locked in a tight race to hold his House seat.
Klein is facing Republican Allen West, a former Army officer he defeated in 2008. This time around Allen has the benefit of fierce anti-incumbent sentiment and has outraised Klein $4 million to $2.5 million, according to the latest reports from the campaigns.
West had a new television ad running Monday in South Florida "welcoming" Obama to the region, and encouraging the president and Klein to "leave that closed-door, high-roller fundraiser and drive by our shuttered businesses and foreclosed homes."
Before departing Miami, Obama stopped by El Mago de las Fritas, a Cuban restaurant that's been in Miami for nearly 50 years.
Obama ordered a Cuban hamburger, which is made of Spanish sausage and topped with french fries. He jokingly warned reporters not to tell his health-conscious wife, first lady Michelle Obama, about his order.
Associated Press writers Curt Anderson and Matt Sedensky in Miami contributed to this report.