Published July 31, 2012
“It’s just a reality of the campaign-finance situation as we have it.”
-- A top Democrat working with a pro-Obama political action committee explaining to The Hill why President Obama is adding more fundraisers between now and Election Day.
President Obama has gone where no incumbent has gone before: a massive, intensely negative dreadnaught of a campaign that has been pounding his challengers since April. And now, he’s paying the price.
The Hill reports today that Obama, locked in a dead heat with soon-to-be Republican nominee Mitt Romney, is adding fundraisers to his schedule after the Democratic National Convention in September. This is a highly unusual move, especially for an incumbent. Sitting presidents traditionally take advantage of their stature to hoard money in the year before the fall campaign blitz. That leaves them free to campaign in battleground states and govern, rather than trying to wheedle dollars out of entitled-feeling donors who expect access for their max-out checks.
George W. Bush had raised the vast majority of his $367 million in 2004 by this point in that campaign cycle, leaving Bush to blitz Ohio, Florida and the other swing states from convention’s end until Election Day. Democratic nominee John Kerry did the same. This year, Romney will follow the same pattern.
Romney has found ways to open the floodgates of Republican money in fast fashion and, following one more cash dash leading up to his convention, will be on air, and on the stump for most of the next three months.
Democrats told The Hill that Obama was adding more high-dollar fundraisers next month – events like the $40,000-a-head soiree that took Obama to New York on Monday night. But, more significantly, Obama will also be doing a higher number of fundraisers in the fall.
The Obama campaign is sitting on mountains of cash right now, but he is burning through it at an astonishing rate. Rather than the more traditional approach of an incumbent to run lean through the spring and summer before building out a larger apparatus, Obama started big and has gotten bigger. Even before he started nuking Romney with on-air character attacks, Obama was spending some $20 million in one month for staff, facilities, technology and other campaign infrastructure.
The president and his men knew this big, ugly and early approach would be hugely expensive. There were whispered brags that the campaign would raise $1 billion and plow through an underfunded Republican nominee whose coffers were sapped by a protracted primary fight. Small-dollar online contributions would pour in and marry up with fat checks from plutocratic Democrats.
This plan led Obama to hold more fundraisers than his past five predecessors combined and left him open to constant attacks from Republicans who unfailingly point out that while Obama has attended more than 120 fundraisers in the past six months, he has not met once with his jobs council. Obama has nuzzled Hollywood heavyweights, Wall Street financiers, same-sex marriage enthusiasts and other rich liberal groups day after day.
Unfortunately for Democrats, Obama’s unprecedented fundraising push has not kept pace with his unprecedented campaign-spending rate.
Part of the problem is that the personal attacks against Romney that Obama seeks to fund are kind of a turnoff to rich folks. The class-conscious attacks on Romney for being a rich financier who shields his fortune from the tax man may sound good in a focus group in Ashtabula, Ohio. It sounds different on Wall Street where the Cayman Islands are not primarily thought of for excellent SCUBA diving.
And with Democratic enthusiasm down, small-dollar donors have clammed up too.
This leads to constant begging to donors high and low by the president, his running mate and everyone else associated with the campaign. When they got around to encouraging people to give a donation as a wedding gift, it was pretty clear they were already desperate.
Democrats place the blame for all this on conservative outside groups, like American Crossroads. But Democratic outside groups and labor unions will also bring considerable firepower. Depending on how generous unions are to their Democratic allies, it could be about a fair fight on the outside.
The problem here is that the president overestimated his ability to raise money and built a campaign he could not afford. Had he husbanded his resources more carefully, Obama would not have to spend so much time in the closing 98 days of the election going around with his hand out.
The Day in Quotes
“And here, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul the Second, spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage. "Be not afraid" - those words changed the world.”
-- Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a speech in Warsaw Poland at the close of an overseas campaign swing.
"To us, the biggest [positive] case for US equities is based on the huge cash balances and the potential belief that they will be more actively and productively deployed. The biggest possibility here would be Romney winning the presidential election."
-- Morgan Stanley chief U.S. equity strategist Adam S. Parker in an analysis of market conditions, as quoted by CNBC, explaining why rising stock markets reflect Wall Street expectations of a Republican win this fall.
"Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect."
-- Rich Gorka, campaign spokesman for Mitt Romney, quoted by the Miami Herald, chiding reporters who were shouting hostile at the soon-to-be Republican nominee on a visit to Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.
"It's like 'forward, now stop.'"
-- Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama’s National Economic Council and an Obama Campaign adviser, talking to the Wall Street Journal about the unusual use of a period in the campaign’s slogan: “Forward.”
The Big Number
-- The value of assets worldwide managed by private equity firms like Bain Capital last year, according to a new study by research firm Preqin.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“Clinton is not at all like Obama. Clinton is the guy who abolished welfare. He's the guy who declared big government is over. Obama lives by decree if you built it, it wasn't you, it was the government. It's completely different. And I think it's the center left Democrat and a man of the left, and I think it will be highlighted by that speech and it's not going to be mitigated.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.