By Laura MacInnis
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama struck back on Thursday against his political rivals seeking the Republican presidential nomination, saying they were attacking his economic record without having solid plans of their own.
At a fundraiser for his 2012 re-election campaign in the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, Obama said he was busy "attacking the country's problems" while his Republican opponents were targeting him.
"I've got a day job. I've got other things to do. But while I'm working, there are going to be candidates parading around the country. And they're going to do what they do, which is, they're going to attack," he told nearly 800 supporters at a downtown Philadelphia hotel, where tickets were $100 and up.
Obama said he believed voters would come to his side.
"The American people are a lot less interested in us attacking each other. They're more interested in us attacking the country's problems," Obama said.
"They're less interested in hearing us exchange insults about the past. They want us to exchange ideas about the future. That's the contest I'm looking forward to, because I know that's the contest that America needs. And by the way, that's the contest that we will win," he said.
Obama won Pennsylvania by a 10 percentage point margin in 2008 but the state is expected to be closely contested next year and is already seeing political traffic pick up.
Mitt Romney, considered the Republican front-runner for the 2012 nomination, slammed Obama's economic leadership at a news conference outside a closed-down metal factory in Allentown that the president visited in 2009 to say it would benefit from his $821 billion stimulus plan.
Romney's campaign also issued an Internet ad about the plant closing, including the graphic "Over 100,000 Pennsylvania jobs lost since President Obama took office."
Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes, and 270 are needed to win the U.S. presidency.
Although the state's unemployment rate has fallen below the national average, persistent concerns about the economy have dragged down Obama's job approval rating there to about 45 percent, on par with his national rating.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Mohammad Zargham)