March 25th, 2009
03:09 PM ET
5 years ago

New role for Obama: Fundraiser-in-chief

President Barack Obama takes his first stab tonight at the role of fundraiser-in-chief.
President Barack Obama takes his first stab tonight at the role of fundraiser-in-chief.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama takes his first stab tonight at the role of fundraiser-in-chief.

The president is the main attraction at two events here in the nation's capitol for the Democratic National Committee, the first fundraising test for Obama since he took over the presidency two months ago. As a candidate for the White House, the then-senator from Illinois had little trouble raising money: He broke all fundraising records, raking in nearly $750 million during his two-year campaign for the presidency.

The money raised at tonight's two events - at the National Women in the Arts Museum and the Warner Theater, where singer Tony Bennett is scheduled to perform - will come in handy as the Democratic National Committee struggles to keep pace with its Republican counterpart.

The Democrats won back the White House and increased their majorities in Congress in last November's elections, but when it comes to campaign cash, the national party's not having the same kind of success. The DNC raised around $3.3 million last month, while the Republican National Committee raked in over $5 million.

Thanks to a larger transfer of campaign cash left over from Obama's presidential run, the DNC was able to report $5.4 million in total contributions last month, slightly edging out the RNC. But when it comes to cash on hand - the amount of money the parties have in the bank - the DNC trails the RNC $24 million to $8.5 million.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on Tuesday dismissed the committee's disappointing February cash haul, arguing that his fundraising efforts were handicapped by a Virginia law that prohibits officials from raising money during the state's legislative session.

"Fundraising stories don't interest me that much," Kaine said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "I was unable to raise any money in February, by law."

Kaine, who is serving as DNC chair while finishing out his term as Virginia governor, wrapped up work with the state's General Assembly on February 28.

"That is the reason that the numbers aren't going to be what they're going to be in future months," said Kaine, who became DNC chairman in late January.

Kaine said that observers should "stay tuned" now that he's free to solicit donation.

"Historically, the Republican Party has almost always outraised the Democratic Party regardless of who sat in the Oval Office. It wasn't until the 2004 cycle that the DNC was able to barely out raise the RNC. So the fact that Democrats haven't brought in as much this year as the GOP isn't necessarily a huge surprise," says Robert Yoon, CNN's Political Research Director.

The President's appearances at the fundraisers comes on the same day he spent some political capital, for the first time since taking over the White House, to get another Democrat elected.

Obama e-mailed New York Democrats endorsing Scott Murphy, the venture capitalist who is running in the special election to fill the seat in New York's 20th congressional district that was vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand when she was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January.

Murphy's Republican opponent in next Tuesday's election is is New York assemblyman Jim Tedisco. Though the Democratic and Republican campaign committees in the House of Representatives have pumped resources into the race, the president had so far kept his distance.

In fact, the president has largely avoided from overtly political events since his inauguration two months ago. Last week, that began to change: he sent a video to millions of his supporters through the email distribution list of Organizing for America, the remnants of his presidential campaign that is now under the umbrella of the DNC.

With Democrats hoping to successfully defend two governorships this November, the party hopes that president will be able to bring in the big bucks.

"Controlling the White House is still a big plus when it comes to fundraising. In the last midterms, President Bush raised at least $170 million on behalf of Republican candidates and party committees even while his personal approval ratings were relatively low," says Yoon. "So there's no doubt that President Obama can give the party a huge fundraising boost if he hits the campaign trail and stumps for other Democrats."


Filed under: DNC • FEC • President Obama • Republican National Committee
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Todd

    Please Please Please....Can I give him more money?????

    You Libs are starting to sound like a bunch of sheep.....BAA BAA BAA

    March 25, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. jm

    My first thought was he should actually be working at the job he was elected to do. But upon further reflection, the more time he spends on other things, the less tax payer money that is wasted. Waste as much time as you'd like Obama, the more you do the less it costs us.

    March 25, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Brian Crooks

    Cue the "why isn't he spending 24 hours a day in the oval office just focusing on the economy and nothing else?!?!?!?!" phony outrage in 3...2...1...

    March 25, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. jm

    How much of that $750 million was legal? Why has the press never asked that question.

    March 25, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. ray ray

    Since he's a total wreck at being POTUS – perhaps he can spend time doing the things within his paygrade.. NCAA picks, fundraising, etc.

    March 25, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. jm

    Hey, does the teleprompter get its own seat on Air Force One?

    March 25, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Nick

    I will contribute today so that he can focus on governing!

    March 25, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. Larry Schlueter

    Fund raiser . . . needs to raise a lot of funds to pay for the outlandish spending . . . he would rather raise money for his friends and political party than to help the nations problems. The democrats used to talk about Bush being dumb . . . he was very smart compared to the dumbness of the current president . . . some say BO is intelligent . . . can any of those same provide facts about this dumb comment of BO having intelligence. One thing is for sure . . . he has no economy intelligence.

    March 25, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Carole

    If it fails, I'm moving in with his family.

    March 25, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Scott W.

    Finally, something he's actually good at! Accepting money from bankers and elitists like AIG, and Goldman Sachs. The very same people who put him in the White House in the first place.

    March 25, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. CAE

    He is the President of the United States!!! Get over yourself and put that negative energy into something useful to help this country get back on it's feet and stop pouting like a bunch of babies!!!!!

    March 25, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Mel

    The President has more important things to concentrate on. Bush didn't have an economy crashing down around his head, at least two wars going on, an invasion of the drug cartels from Mexico, and the Republicans bashing him with every breath he took for his first two months of Presidency either time he was elected. Obama has exactly those problems.

    Not to mention, the RNC needs every bit of cash it can get because they know their message is losing so they're hoping that throwing cash at it will fix their problems instead of changing the message. The Democrats don't need that. The message is getting the Dem's through it all just fine.

    March 25, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. EBC, Boyds MD

    WHY NOT? The man has BROKEN every fundraising record in history. NO ONE has beaten his fundraising expertise, not even Sarah Palin. She's NO match for President Obama.

    March 25, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. Anita

    Are we not the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? Not the Democrats, Republican, white, yellow, black, brown, red or whatever? The Republicans have become unamerican and should be asked to leave our soil.

    March 25, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. tim

    Anyone watch Frontline last night…. spot on!

    Bush's failed presidency will be Obama's curse!

    Tax cuts+much more spending= bush tearing us apart.

    Thanks a lot, Bush!

    March 25, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. Spencer/Newport News, VA

    The DNC struggle to keep pace with the RNC?!?! You can't be serious. It doesn't matter. President Obama rakes in the big bucks.

    March 25, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Virginian

    Well, he is the Elitist in Chief, the Campaigner in Chief, the Question-Evader in Chief, so why not the Fundraiser in Chief. He is being everything but the Commander in Chief and the Leader of the free world. He needs to stay home in that big White House and work!

    March 25, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. CAE

    He is the President of The United States of America! Stop your whining, put that negative energy away somehere and do something to help get this country back on it's feet.

    March 25, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Peter E

    In case anyone still doubts that Obama is just all hype, this perpetual campaigning and fundraising is yet another idea he stole from GWB. Dubya spent his entire first four years raising funds and campaigning for his party and himself, only stopping by the White House long enough to cut taxes (and hence run up record deficits) and start the Iraq War (and hence run up even larger deficits).

    March 25, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Bob in Pa

    WHY NOT? The man has found a way to skirt every fundraising rule conceived to date.

    March 25, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Mississippi Mike

    STOP CAMPAIGNING! Run the dang country! He is paying as much attention to his job as president as he did to his job as senator, and that's not a good thing.

    March 25, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. ib

    This president has never come off the campaign trail. He needs to stay at the WH and start acting like a president instead of like he is still trying to win the office. But maybe the country will be better off if he stays out from what I've seen of him so far.

    March 25, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. what gives?

    the peoples champ..

    March 25, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. Abu Bhuiyan

    I believe under Obama's leadership, the Democratic Party will beat RNC fund raising this time. America wants something different. Isn't it?

    March 25, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Kevin

    Where is the website? I will donate so that the job can be easier!

    March 25, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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