President Barack Obama speaks about legislation to help small business...

President Barack Obama speaks about legislation to help small business in the Rose Garden of the White House. (July 27, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is stepping up his fundraising efforts as the midterm elections draw closer and Democrats need money to battle a Republican Party energized in part by voter concern over government spending and regulations.

Obama was to speak Wednesday at a sandwich shop in Edison, N.J., to tout a lending initiative aimed at small businesses. From there he was to travel to New York to tape an interview with the daytime talk show “The View” and attend two high-dollar fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee.

Obama is headlining four Democratic fundraisers in three days and hosting another four events next week. For now he’s playing it safe, holding the eight events in noncompetitive states or in a competitive place where he’s sure to be embraced: his home state of Illinois.

White House officials say Obama will campaign vigorously throughout the nation ahead of the fall elections.

“The fall campaign boils down to a choice between those who want to keep moving forward and those that want to take us back to the policies that got us into this mess,” said White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer. “The president will help make that case across the country.”

Obama’s election-year argument is taking shape: Despite unemployment that continues to hover near 10 percent, he wants voters to make a choice in November between his policies, which he says are pointing the country in the right direction, and those of the GOP, which he says led the country into recession in the first place.

Among the areas where the White House sees an opportunity to draw a line between the two parties is the lending initiative that Obama says will spur hiring and job growth by helping small businesses.

The measure pending in the Senate would create a new lending fund to help community banks offer loans, help states encourage more private-sector lending and eliminate capital gains taxes for certain investments in small businesses, among other steps.

While two Republican senators joined with Democrats last week to advance the measure, other GOP lawmakers have called the bill another bank bailout that would do little to increase lending to small businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that he hopes to schedule a Senate vote on the bill for Wednesday evening, though he would need Republican support to vote that soon. Republican leaders said they would like the opportunity to offer amendments.

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