President Obama is playing diplomat by day and "warrior" by night during his time in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
Obama's new, more partisan self was on full display at a party fund-raiser Tuesday evening, where he defended his call for wealthy Americans to "pay their fair share" for the cause of deficit reduction. And in the process, he had a new answer to Republicans who are uniformly accusing him of waging "class warfare."
"You're already hearing the Republicans in Congress dusting off the old talking points. You can write their press releases -- 'class warfare,' they say," Obama said. "You know what, if asking a billionaire to pay the same rate as a plumber or a teacher makes me a warrior for the middle class, I wear that charge as a badge of honor."
The United Nations gathering gives the president an opportunity to tap New York money; he held events both Monday and Tuesday night. Obama's remarks came at a high-dollar event benefiting his reelection campaign after a day of meetings with world leaders including Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
He also was bucking up the forces he needs lined up behind him as his poll numbers remain low and the reelection campaign ramps up. He tried Tuesday to recapture the spirit of his 2008 campaign.
"All that 'hopey, changey stuff,' as they say -- that was real," he said. "You travel around the country, you talk to the American people -- that spirit is still there. It gets knocked around. I get knocked around. But it’s there and it’s worth fighting for."
Even as a new Marist/McClatchy poll shows Obama's job approval rating at an all-time low of 39%, he's narrowly leading potential Republican opponents Mitt Romney (46%-44%) and Sarah Palin (49%-44%), with larger margins over Rick Perry (50%-41%) and Michele Bachmann (53%-40%).