Obama serenades New York crowd
New York - After taking some brickbats from liberals over a tough three years, President Barack Obama burst into song to woo supporters before pleading with them to boost his re-election bid.
"I'm ..... so in love with you," Obama crooned in melodic falsetto tones at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem late on Thursday, in homage to soul legend Al Green who was in the audience for a fundraising event.
"Those guys didn't think I would do it," a beaming Obama told the crowd after his impromptu serenade, apparently referring to aides offstage.
"I told you I was going to do it."
Further lyrics of Green's 1971 hit Let's Stay Together - which Obama did not sing - could serve as a metaphor for his ties to grassroots Democrats: "loving you forever is what I need/Oh let me be the one you come running to".
Obama needs a strong turnout from the Democratic Party base if he is to win re-election in November at a time of high unemployment and economic pain.
Marking three years since his inauguration on January 20 2009, Obama called on supporters in the New York event to stand by him - and told them he had delivered on his promise of change, but that more remained to be done.
"Real and lasting change is hard," he said.
"It's hard. It takes time. It takes more than a single term. It takes more than a single president. But change comes. I've lived it. I've seen it."
Obama criticized his Republican rivals as extreme and painted them as determined to enrich the wealthy at the expense of ordinary Americans.
As the four remaining main candidates for the Republican presidential nomination duelled in a debate in South Carolina, Obama campaigned until his voice was hoarse in a string of star-studded fundraising events in New York.
He compared the current Republican field unfavourably to Senator John McCain, who he beat in the 2008 election, saying McCain was not "a climate change denier. He was in favour of immigration reform. He was opposed to torture".
"The contrast this year could not be sharper," the president said.
Obama also warned that his Republican foes wanted to cut taxes for the rich at the expense of spending on education, research and development in new industries, and other job-creating measures.
"I should pay more taxes and folks in my income bracket should pay more in taxes," Obama said.
"All of us have to do our part. That should not be a Democratic idea or a Republican idea - that should be an American idea. It is about taking responsibility for the country."