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Obama attacks divided Republicans

Barack Obama has accused his Republican rivals of embracing an economic philosophy that excludes struggling Americans in the latest speech targeting those vying to challenge him in the November election.

The president's tart comments at a fund-raising event in Illinois came as Republican candidates campaigned in the Midwestern state ahead of a primary vote there on Tuesday - the next major test in what has been a drawn-out and chaotic race to choose a Republican presidential nominee.

The Obama camp has stepped into full campaign mode this week, trying to draw a sharper contrast between the president and his divided Republican opponents.

Mr Obama said the conservative field of hopefuls campaigning to take his job would do well to channel the moderation and inclusiveness of Abraham Lincoln, the nation's first Republican president who, like Mr Obama, once represented Illinois in the US Congress.

"I'm thinking maybe some Lincoln will rub off on them while they're here," Mr Obama said at the event in Chicago.

He said Lincoln - an oft-mentioned Obama role model - understood Americans were one nation, and they rose and fell together. He contrasted that with "on-your-own economics" which he says his Republican foes embrace.

"They've got a simple philosophy: We are better off when everybody is left on their own, everybody writes their own rules," Mr Obama said.

At a fund-raiser later in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr Obama cast the Republican Party as holding a "fundamentally different vision about who we are as a country" and compared his challengers unfavourably with his 2008 presidential opponent, Senator John McCain.

"That shift that has taken place in the Republican Party we haven't seen in a very long time," he said. "In 2008, the guy I was running against, the Republican nominee, he didn't deny that climate change might be a problem, he thought it was a good idea for us to ban torture, he was on record as having supported immigration reform."

The president's attacks came at a time when his Republican opponents - front-runner Mitt Romney, plus Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich - are mired in a polarising primary campaign that has veered into touchy social issues like contraception, and away from the economic problems worrying many Americans.

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