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. Matthew, Detroit

    The guy never stopped campaigning.

    He is running the country into the gournd.
    He does not have any idea how much damage he is causing.

    Good thing is that he is a 1 term president. 1 and out. 56% dropping.

    March 25, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Matthew, Detroit

    Too bad he is more concerned about Leno and his image instead of

    running the country.
    Worst president of all time. He proves it more every day. He lies about the economy and he lies about the budget.
    5 trillion will be added to the national debt in his 4 years. He is adding 1.75 trillion this year alone. Good job barack.

    March 25, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. helloooooOOOO

    it would make more sense to "me", if both parties took all the money they collected and used it to help the banks, housing crisis or whatever, instead of asking us for the money..and hey, since most of us dont have any money now, where are these politicians getting all this money from ???????

    March 25, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Stef

    So he's already campaigning for 2012? Shouldn't he be working to help get America back on track and not on the photo ops and fundraisers for the next election? Oh yea, Americans are mostly stupid and so don't judge on actions, just on fame and popularity, so I guess he is right to act like a hollywood figure and just go for the publicity.

    March 25, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. BJ Everett

    Nope! No money for DNC for me. Beg, Obama, beg, but it won't do you any good. I still won't give.

    March 25, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Jeff

    Whether it's Republicans, Democrats or Independents the American people need every one of their elected officials at all levels of government focusing on the issues at hand and not the next election. Until the lunacy of the perpetual fundraising and next election planning slows, or preferably stops the problems at hand will not be effectively decided and acted upon. I implore ALL of our elected officials to GET TO WORK AND STOP CAMPAIGNING FOR THE NEXT ELECTION !!!

    March 25, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Obama 2.0

    Just proves to show you that you can have all the money in the world but if you are the GOP, you are not going to get the center.

    March 25, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. no corporate politics

    @ EBC "The man has BROKEN every fundraising record in history. "

    You forgot the myth of all small contributions from the average person...NOT

    Truth hurts but $100,000 from AIG, and many other Big Corporations!

    Down with the RNC and DNC machine!

    March 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Raymond

    EBC , Boyds MD says

    "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."

    ----

    Yes – the same politician who originally promised to participate in a publicly financed campaign (with John McCain) but then BROKE his promise...

    I certainly hope you libs aren't holding your breath thinking OBAMA will do anything about campaign finance. Hell, Obama took campaign money from Palestinians!

    But you libs don't really like to talk about that... do you.

    March 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. jp,michigan

    Obama has never stopped campaigning. Result of that is the speech he gave last night. When are you going to finally speak to the American people with out rehearsed rhethoric?

    March 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Tom

    Obama IS working... every day. His team has put together more programs and policies in the first 60 days than Bush did in his first 4 years.

    So, Obama can't walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time?

    Bush went on vacation 40% of the time in office. 40%!!!

    March 25, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. Is it 2013 yet?

    He is a campaigner, a complainer, a whiner, a socialist, a special needs hater,a giggler on 60 minutes, a question evader,an average at best basketball player, a horrible bowler, an elitist, a quadruple the budget guru, and last but not least, A ONE TERM PRESIDENT.

    Everyday the fact that he never ran a business, never ran a state, never ran a city, balanced a budget, but VOTED present over and over is proving us 48 percent RIGHT that he is all fluff with no stuff.

    One and done Barry.

    March 25, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. daniel cabrera

    Obama needs help so he is has the right to get it – fair is fair.
    sincerely,
    Daniel Cabrera
    Merrillville, Indiana

    March 25, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Majik

    Maybehe could raise 9.3 trillion to bailout the mess he has made so far.

    March 25, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Nick from La Crosse, WI

    Wow, Republicans are mature. They want Obama to fail, so they can lose their money, and the country will fall even further into this mess. All they do is point fingers, when they could actually be involved with the government, and help the president! They fail to understand that many scars from the Recession will be permanent. When jobs are shipped overseas, how the hell do we get the back? How do we restore our Foundation that was built in 1787? Oh, by Communism of course! I think that's what Republicans are trying to do, pretty much engage our country into a Civil Cold War, so that they can restore Supremacy in the same manner that China did. That really makes me want to trust them.

    March 25, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. German,Irish,American

    The Teleprompter of The United States has nothing better to do than keep raising illegal donations? Maybe he should concentrate on solving the economic crisis that he inherited from himself and his fellow Democrat theives that controlled both houses while destroying the economy. Because remember, Bush could sign no bill unless it came from Congress, and Democrats wrote the final two years of spending bills along with denying stricter regulations on Fannie and Freddie. So yes, Obama inherited a "mess" created by himself and his fellow Dems. ACORN. community organizers, and the government forced Fannie and Freddie to make bad loans. And now they want to try these same failed policies by having the government tell all banks who to lend to? Socialized economic slavery created by Obama, "Chains We Can Believe In".

    March 25, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Deborah

    What a Joke!

    Millions of us are loosing our Jobs, 401ks, and future inheritances

    And our newly elected "Leader" is still busy Campaigning!

    When is he going to actually work??

    Opps I forgot he is a Show horse not a Work horse.

    March 25, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. Scott, Tucson

    Now let's sign in a law where the IRS can go back and tax 90% of that fund raising money and use it towards Obama's trillion plus spending bill.

    March 25, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. cocopiaul

    President Obama will win the next election, you nay sayers

    March 25, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. phoenix86

    Please, keep Obama on the fundraising circuit and as far away from the decision-making in Washington as possible. Perhaps Hillary can take over in his absence. With any luck, Obama will be gone for a long long time.

    March 25, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Seems like Matthew from Detroit has solutions to all the problems. He seems to disagree with Obama on pretty much all issues.
    Next time we can elect 'Matthew-All talk-No sense' for President.

    March 25, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Scott

    Tim, I don;t see how the "much more spending" is Bush's fault. Granted, he did get us into a large deficit but the spending Obama has now undertaken dwarfs that of Bush. Spending our way out of this mess is not the answer, doesn't anybody see that? Why is nobody talking about what will ultimately come about with all of this? HYPERINFLATION!

    March 25, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. daniel cabrera

    As I said; fair is fair and Obama needs help,...perhaps more help will come to him;

    Well,..let me tell you , that wicked gang in washington needs all the help they can get,…I figure that God is not enough, they need other people too…..let's say, MERLIN, HARRY POTTER, TNKERBELL, HERCULES, JON STEWART,MICKEY MOUSE, SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, INDIANA JONES, MR SPOCK, AND THE TERMINATOR.
    However if this is not enough, as indeed just might not be, they can do mercenary-contracts with THE HAMMAS, HEZBOLAH, SPIDERMAN, MADONNA, THE ENTIRE CREW FROM THE TV TABLOIDS CNN AND MSNBC, AND SATAN (and about this LAST BUT NOT LEAST mentioned character,…they are not too far from)

    sincerely,
    Daniel Cabrera
    Merrillville, Indiana

    March 25, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. S. Allen

    I've got to give it to this man – he has done more in 60 days to ruin the future of this country than any other single person (American or foreign) in history.

    Hope he fails? Heck, I hope he gets impeached for treason!

    March 25, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. Kurt C.

    He needs to discover the role of a President who knows how to run a country. He hasn't yet discovered that.

    March 25, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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