Obama Campaign Woos Small Donors, Obama Himself Enjoys Multi-Million Dollar VacationDecember 30, 2011
“The billion-dollar campaign.”
That’s what political pundits have been calling President Obama’s reelection campaign. “It’s definitely within reach, as he raised three quarters of a billion last time. As the incumbent president it’s quite plausible to imagine him raising $1 billion,” CFI Executive Director Michael Malbin told Reuters last year. Unnamed Democratic Party officials agreed, telling the Wall Street Journal that Obama would have to get an early start to establish himself as a formidable candidate in a race expected to cost $1 billion.
The figure has become an established marker of success for the 2012 campaign; if he raises $1 billion he’s doing well, if not, he could be in for some rough times.
But in a recent fundraising video Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina dismissed the claims of a billion dollar campaign as “bullshit.”
“We don’t take PAC money, unlike our opponents. We fund this campaign in contributions of three dollars or five dollars or whatever you can do to help us expand the map, to put more people on the ground, to build a real grassroots campaign that is going to be the difference between winning and losing,” Messina said in the ad.
Beyond the irony of decrying a fundraising goal in a fundraising email, the feigned modesty and “we’re just like you” populism is stomach-turning. Even worse, it’s flat out misleading.
Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey pokes some holes in Messina’s message on the blog Hot Air:
“Messina conveniently neglects to mention that the Obama campaign has a few bundlers raising big money for the campaign. Did I say “a few’? More like three hundred and fifty-seven of them, including Obama’s personal envoy to Wall Street, MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, a magician whose firm made $1.2 billion in customer funds disappear. That figure includes 78 from law firms, 62 from the investment community, 31 from “business services,” and 15 from the entertainment industry.”
Nevertheless, it’s a strategy that worked in 2008 when Obama was able to play up his grassroots fundraising style despite receiving far more money from Wall Street than Sen. McCain. “Obama seems capable of effortlessly floating between demonizing Wall Street gambling one day and profiting from it the next,” said MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. “The audacity is breathtaking.”
And while the Obama team will always tout their prodigious low-dollar online fundraising program, those figures were exceeded by larger donations from around 700 big and small bundlers in 2008.
It’s a strategy that could pay off this cycle. Despite near constant trips to New York to meet with bundlers, his $25,000 and $35,000 per plate fundraisers throughout the country, and $10,000 photo-ops for Los Angeles showbiz-types, Obama wants you to believe his campaign is funded by nickels and dimes.
Even if Obama was raising his money through people like you and me, he sure isn’t living like it. Obama’s currently enjoying a Hawaii vacation, where he teed off at the Ko’olau Golf Club, enjoyed dinner at the pricey Alan Wong’s Restaurant, before kicking back at their 6,000 square foot vacation home listed at $7.9 million.
Obama’s billion-dollar campaign may be “bullshit,” but what does Mr. Messina have to say about his $4.1 million Hawaii vacation?