Commentary Magazine


Topic: fundraising

Obama Has Held More Fundraisers than Intel Briefings Since Campaign Began

At the Washington Post yesterday, Marc Thiessen reported on a study by the Government Accountability Institute that found President Obama has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings since taking office, based on his public schedule. This is a sharp contrast to President Bush, who reportedly rarely missed an intelligence briefing.

According to the 2011 and 2012 digests of Obama’s public schedule from the U.S. Government Printing Office, he attended 198 of his daily intelligence briefings between April 14, 2011 (the day he hosted the first fundraiser of his reelection campaign) and August 24, 2012 (the last day included in the latest GPO digest). By August 14, 2012, Obama had already reached 203 fundraising events since launching his reelection campaign, slightly more than the number of intelligence briefings he had attended during that time period.

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At the Washington Post yesterday, Marc Thiessen reported on a study by the Government Accountability Institute that found President Obama has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings since taking office, based on his public schedule. This is a sharp contrast to President Bush, who reportedly rarely missed an intelligence briefing.

According to the 2011 and 2012 digests of Obama’s public schedule from the U.S. Government Printing Office, he attended 198 of his daily intelligence briefings between April 14, 2011 (the day he hosted the first fundraiser of his reelection campaign) and August 24, 2012 (the last day included in the latest GPO digest). By August 14, 2012, Obama had already reached 203 fundraising events since launching his reelection campaign, slightly more than the number of intelligence briefings he had attended during that time period.

Republicans have been blasting Obama for routinely skipping the meetings. Vice President Cheney sharply criticized the president in a statement to the Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein last night:

“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Cheney told The Daily Caller in an email through a spokeswoman.

“Those who deserve the credit are the men and women in our military and intelligence communities who worked for many years to track him down. They are the ones who deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.”

White House officials defended Obama’s attendance record to Politico yesterday, with Jay Carney dismissing the allegations as “hilarious.”

“[Obama] receives and reads his [Presidential Daily Brief] every day, and most days when he’s at the White House receives a briefing in person,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Politico in an email. “When necessary he probes the arguments, requests more information or seeks alternate analysis. Sometimes that’s via a written assessment and other times it’s in person.”

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Could Ryan Hurt Obama’s Fundraising?

Here’s an interesting catch from CNN. Obama campaign co-chair and top bundler Marc Benioff has raised over $500,000 for Obama’s reelection, but apparently he also donated $10,000 to Paul Ryan’s PAC just two months ago (h/t Dan Halper):

Benioff has helped raise more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election effort, and even hosted a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser featuring Stevie Wonder and hip-hop artist Will.i.am. …

But the tech executive is also a fan of Ryan — Mitt Romney’s running mate and a rising Republican star. In June, Benioff donated $10,000 to Ryan’s political action committee after meeting with the candidate, who at the time had not been named to the GOP ticket and was running for re-election in the House. …

What’s so attractive about Ryan, Benioff said, is his focus on deficit and budget issues. The nation’s fiscal difficulties must be addressed, the CEO said, and Ryan’s ideas offer “a lot of the right long-term thinking for the country.”

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Here’s an interesting catch from CNN. Obama campaign co-chair and top bundler Marc Benioff has raised over $500,000 for Obama’s reelection, but apparently he also donated $10,000 to Paul Ryan’s PAC just two months ago (h/t Dan Halper):

Benioff has helped raise more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election effort, and even hosted a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser featuring Stevie Wonder and hip-hop artist Will.i.am. …

But the tech executive is also a fan of Ryan — Mitt Romney’s running mate and a rising Republican star. In June, Benioff donated $10,000 to Ryan’s political action committee after meeting with the candidate, who at the time had not been named to the GOP ticket and was running for re-election in the House. …

What’s so attractive about Ryan, Benioff said, is his focus on deficit and budget issues. The nation’s fiscal difficulties must be addressed, the CEO said, and Ryan’s ideas offer “a lot of the right long-term thinking for the country.”

Benioff also contributed $2,300 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2007. He has a history of contributing to both Republicans and Democrats, though his support for Obama has far outweighed his support for any other candidate from either party.

But this does seem to show the crossover appeal Romney and Ryan have with donors in the business world who supported Obama in 2008 but aren’t particularly partisan. If someone like Benioff, who currently has an official role with the Obama campaign, is open to Ryan’s ideas, then what about the donors who played a smaller part in ’08? This has been a problem for Obama since he began running for reelection, and the addition of Paul Ryan to the GOP ticket could make things worse.

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Romney’s Fundraising Advantage Widens

The New York Times reports that Romney now has a $62 million cash-on-hand advantage over Obama, which isn’t as significant as it sounds considering Obama has outraised and outspent his opponent since the beginning of his campaign.

But check out the cash-on-hand advantage the Romney-supporting American Crossroads has over the Obama-supporting Priorities USA:

Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Mr. Obama, raised $4.8 million and ended July with $4.2 million in cash on hand.

American Crossroads, the major super PAC backing Mr. Romney and the Senate Republicans, raised $7.7 million in July and spent $9.1 million, ending the month with $29.5 million in cash.

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The New York Times reports that Romney now has a $62 million cash-on-hand advantage over Obama, which isn’t as significant as it sounds considering Obama has outraised and outspent his opponent since the beginning of his campaign.

But check out the cash-on-hand advantage the Romney-supporting American Crossroads has over the Obama-supporting Priorities USA:

Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Mr. Obama, raised $4.8 million and ended July with $4.2 million in cash on hand.

American Crossroads, the major super PAC backing Mr. Romney and the Senate Republicans, raised $7.7 million in July and spent $9.1 million, ending the month with $29.5 million in cash.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for other top Obama-supporting super PACs like American Bridge 21st Century, and the support from the labor movement. But it still doesn’t look good for them. According to the Huffington Post, most of Priorities USA’s July fundraising came from just eight individuals (plus a handful of law firms and unions):

The super PAC, run by former White House aide Bill Burton, raised most of its July money from eight individuals, two unions and seven law firms. The biggest single contribution came from the real estate investor and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender activist Mel Heifetz.

Clearly Obama’s side is somewhat worried about fundraising, or we wouldn’t be deluged with stories about it every other day. The Republican side certainly seems to have the capacity to outraise its opponents between now and the election; but it’s hard to tell whether the constant stories about Obama and Co.’s poor fundraising numbers indicate an actual problem for them, or whether it’s just another way for them to put pressure on donors.

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Obama Fails as Fundraiser in Chief Too

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.”

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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.

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Obama Fundraising Up in March

The combined Obama campaign/Democratic National Committee haul for March was $53 million, an uptick from the $45 million they pulled in the month before. It’s a positive trend for the Obama campaign after a slow winter, but it still doesn’t get them on track to raise the mega-sums they had hoped for:

The president’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee took in a combined $53 million in March through their various fundraising accounts, the Obama camp announced in a video Monday. …

The more interesting test of Obama’s fundraising potential may come in the April numbers, now that it’s unavoidably clear who the Republican nominee will be. High on the list of reasons why Democrats believe Obama’s fundraising has been solid, but not jaw-dropping, is that there hasn’t been a general election-like contrast with a Republican opponent, and financial supporters of both the grassroots and high-dollar variety haven’t felt the urgency they otherwise might.

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The combined Obama campaign/Democratic National Committee haul for March was $53 million, an uptick from the $45 million they pulled in the month before. It’s a positive trend for the Obama campaign after a slow winter, but it still doesn’t get them on track to raise the mega-sums they had hoped for:

The president’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee took in a combined $53 million in March through their various fundraising accounts, the Obama camp announced in a video Monday. …

The more interesting test of Obama’s fundraising potential may come in the April numbers, now that it’s unavoidably clear who the Republican nominee will be. High on the list of reasons why Democrats believe Obama’s fundraising has been solid, but not jaw-dropping, is that there hasn’t been a general election-like contrast with a Republican opponent, and financial supporters of both the grassroots and high-dollar variety haven’t felt the urgency they otherwise might.

Ed Morrissey rightly points out that it’s a little premature to read into these numbers, since the DNC and Obama campaign haven’t announced yet how that fundraising was split:

As happens every month, Team Obama announces the overall number first, and only later explains how the money got split.  Usually the DNC gets between 20-25 percent of the haul, which in this case would put the actual cash going into the Obama campaign at $42.5 million or so, but we’ll see.  The joint effort did add 190,000 first-time donors, and had 567,000 donors overall.

That breakdown will tell us how much slack the DNC is picking up. Politico reports that in 2008, the Obama campaign raised $42.8 million without the DNC. And of course, a major indicator of Obama’s supporter enthusiasm is whether he’s on track to meet his 2008 monthly fundraising numbers, which so far he hasn’t been able to.

But that’s not to diminish the Obama campaign/DNC’s fundraising bump. Even if he fails to match his 2008 levels, Obama will still raise a massive amount of money this year, as he should. After all, President Obama has already attended over twice as many fundraisers than President Bush did at this point in his presidency. He better be getting something back for all that time.

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