Big money fundraising getting harder for Obama campaign
President Obama appears to be botching his campaign fundraising almost as badly as he is screwing up the economy. It was mind-bogglingly stupid to announce a plan to raise a billion dollars for his re-election. This was a potent signal that he would play money politics, something progressives denounce when Republicans raise money. Moreover, it appears to be a goal that will be hard to attain, given how much he has alienated some key constituencies.
An article by Peter Wallsten today in the Washington Post describes "Obama pushing behind scenes to win over big-dollar donors."
President Obama and top White House aides are waging a behind-the-scenes push to win over skeptical big-dollar donors - whose early money is needed to help fund a dramatic summertime expansion of his battleground-state machinery.
Campaign officials are working to broaden Obama's network of "bundlers," the well-connected rainmakers tasked with soliciting big checks from wealthy donors, while seeking to preserve the aura of a grass-roots movement by luring back the kind of small Internet donations that helped shatter fundraising records four years ago.
To do so, Obama and his aides are leveraging every asset available to a sitting president - from access to top West Wing officials to a possible food tasting with the White House chef.
Wouldn't food tasting with the White House chef as a fund-raising gimmick involve the use of government assets for politics? Don't taxpayers provide the salary of the White House chef? Isn't that illegal?
Wallsten lists some of the alienated big money donor groups being courted:
A key player in the closed-door donor recruitment is White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley, a former banking executive who has huddled in recent weeks over breakfasts and dinners with business leaders and Wall Street financiers in Chicago, New York and Washington - seeking to ease tensions over new financial regulations and other administration policies.
Daley and other officials have also tried to help court Jewish donors who have expressed frustration with Obama's Middle East policies, according to people familiar with the discussions.
In one case this month, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett spent an hour visiting a major pro-Israel donor identified by the campaign as a potential financial supporter. And, this spring, campaign manager Jim Messina made his pitch during at least two meetings in Manhattan with Wall Street executives. (snip)
In her meeting with the pro-Israel supporter, Jarrett listened as the donor expressed dissatisfaction with the White House's approach to the Middle East. The donor remained on the fence after their discussion but later said the meeting left an impression.
"She's got very limited time, so I should see it as meaningful, right?" said the donor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation. "You don't get a visit every day from the White House's senior adviser."
This last choice is mind-numbingly dumb. Jarrett, who grew up in Tehran, is not exactly known as a friend of Israel. Alana Goodman of Commentary quips:
Probably the most amazing part of this story is the White House actually sent Valerie Jarrett to try to convince this Jewish donor of Obama's pro-Israel bona fides. Was Zbigniew Brzezinski not available that day?
Gays are also impatient:
Obama received numerous ovations at the fundraiser with gay activists, but a heckler repeatedly interrupted his remarks by declaring "Marriage!" It was a reminder that, despite his rollback of the military ban on openly gay service members and his administration's refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the president has yet to fully embrace the idea of legalized gay marriage.
The there are those Wall Street fat cats, who made out like bandits from Obama, but who are regularly demonized and facing increased regulation:
Wall Street executives, angry over the financial services regulation bill and Obama's rhetoric blaming bankers for their role in the country's economic collapse, have been the target of some of the White House's most intensive courtship.
Messina has been meeting with potential bundlers from Manhattan to Los Angeles. In sessions this spring with Wall Street bankers, he was "emphatic" that Obama needed their early commitment to give and raise large sums, according to someone in the room.
One major Democratic donor who attended a Messina session described a sense of "quiet hostility" among the Wall Street executives present as the strategist listed Obama's policy achievements and encouraged their financial assistance.
Another person familiar with Daley's private talks with business leaders said the process felt like a rushed courtship.
"It's not a friendly relationship," the person said.
Obama's basic problem is that he has a track record, and it is a sorry one. He tgries to be everything to everyone, and after a certain amount of time, the phoniness becomes evident, even to starry-eyed libs. Fund raising, like governing, turns out to rest more on actions than images.Ed Lasky paraphrases: "Obama pulling out all stops to get money from those "fat cats" he decries: want a wine tasting with the WH chef? Hey -- why engage in debt and deficit negotiations when you can recruit big donors?
At a $25,000-per-couple dinner in Washington last week with about 80 Israel supporters, a number of attendees stood to question Obama's recent statements on Israel, in which he declared that any peace deal with the Palestinians would be based on 1967 borders and certain land swaps. A participant, Baltimore real estate developer Stewart Greenebaum, said later that Obama "didn't dodge any questions."