A first-term president running for re-election always has a certain time-deficit challenge to overcome–the president, unlike his opponent, has a job to do. Electioneering takes a backseat to being leader of the free world. The president’s opponent, if not currently in office himself, could theoretically spend all day, every day at rallies in swing states while the President remains in the Oval Office, making decisions that set the trajectory for the country. The president, at the very least, has the advantage of already appearing presidential.
At least, that’s how it used to be. Mother Jones reported yesterday that President Obama has attended more than 200 fundraisers since officially relaunching his reelection campaign in April of last year. “Put another way, that’s an average of one fundraiser roughly every 60 hours for Obama.”
Mother Jones blames the Citizens United decision for “forcing” the president to become the fundraiser in chief to fight against the tide of shadowy Republican money, despite the existence of his own Super PAC, flush with union and celebrity cash.
Initially, President Obama set a fundraising goal of $1 billion–a world record for any campaign, anywhere. It’s become clear after the first few quarters of reporting that the president will, barring unforeseen events, miss that mark.
Why has the president’s fundraising faltered despite his constant fundraiser attendance? Put simply: the thrill is gone. Even his own wife Michelle Obama was forced to admit her husband isn’t a superhero. This from the woman who four years ago stated that Barack Obama made her finally, at long last, proud of her country. How the mighty have fallen. But in this case, it was Obama who brought himself down to earth.
President Obama has eroded his own built-in advantage: He’s stopped appearing presidential. While finding time to attend a fundraiser every sixty hours, he has not submitted himself to questions from the press in eight weeks and counting. Priorities USA, his campaign’s super-PAC, has accused Mitt Romney of manslaughter and his vice president warned a large group of black supporters yesterday that the GOP wants to put them back in chains. And it’s only August.
As Alana pointed out yesterday, in the face of the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate, the Democrats have proven they don’t want to make this an election of ideas, but rather of fear-mongering. Voters, and potential donors, have noticed. The president’s campaigning strategy may improve his polling numbers in the short term every time they warn that Republicans are going to take away “rights” like birth control and collective bargaining, but it doesn’t inspire the hope that his 2008 campaign did. That hope energized donors (and perhaps voters) who will be sitting this election out.