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. Lilarose

    All Obama has to do is ask us common folks to send in small donations and WE WILL DO IT!

    Just tell me the address.

    March 25, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    Community Organizer in Chief that has no clue what his teleprompter wants him to do now.

    March 25, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. peeved

    He's always campaigning. His words are just that, empty and pandering. We need to get rid of all incumbents. They're all selling us down the river.

    March 25, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Nancy

    This so awful for the Republications to want to see Obama to fail. I thought we all were americans and are in this together. If Obama's policies fail then the whole country fails. The should be ashamed of themselves. Talk about sore losers. They are acting like a bunch of children.

    I will never vote for another Republican.

    March 25, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. aware

    The "road to hell" is about right for this false messiah's agenda! :(

    March 25, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Chipster

    Unfortunately, it takes an obscene amount of money to win elections but, if Obama hadn't won, we'd still be governed by the same self-serving people who dug the financial hole we're in today. That's right, the ones who keep wishing our nation would fail, complaining about Obama's ideas, yetoffering no ideas of their own. Well, I suppose they're idea to keep digging and cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans is an idea but – sorry – been there, done that. Can't afford to go there again!

    March 25, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Douglas Gamble

    Are they saying they would rather see America fail to further their own political agenda? Yes that is exactly what they are saying.

    March 25, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Gary

    He needs to stop raising funds for the Democrats and start raising funds for the citizens. Why can't he focus on the economy?

    March 25, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. FreeNLovIt

    To aware

    W and Obie are setting the platforms for the AntiChrist to spring off of to stardom and power. W crushed Saddam. Obie opens the way to a new religious and DNA culture. Have you read your Bible lately? The Beast and his False Prophets, raises someone from a deadly blow.

    March 25, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. USAF(Ret)Grandpop

    The Big ""O" is "#1": DNC voter's, Sen/Hos team's, and The Johnson Family has Big "O" vote!

    March 25, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Expat in Canada

    Where was all the right wing rage when Bush was campaigning through his presidency? The infamous "mushroom cloud" speech about Iraq was at a fundraiser in Cincinnati, for crying out loud.

    March 25, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. FreeNLovIt

    Teleprompter or not, this guy CAN speak. You can put me in front of one and I'll bore YA out. Try putting Jimmy Carter in front of a teleprompter. He's got SKILLS

    March 25, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. PJP

    What I saw the other day made me want to throw up. Do you know where Obama and his adminstration is getting all this money to bail out companies and such? They are borrowing from China. China is now saying that America is not a good risk and is ready to start collecting on what we owe them. Did I know this before or did any of us know this before? I think not! Now, I will say that Obama did not start this and it has been going on for some time now. That is where we are getting the money to lend to other countries that don't have to pay back to us. To the bottom line, where is the money going to come from that is owed back to China? The American people cannot give anymore than they are giving now!

    Don't let this adminstration fool you! Things are not good and if they keep borrowing from China, man oh man, we had better look out. China has kept most of their nation poor from taking and taking and never giving anything back.

    It's okay, you don't have to believe me, just do some searching for yourself.

    March 25, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Melissa

    What a joke! He is going to tax EVERYTHING! Wake up people, we are gonna pay and pay dearly!

    March 25, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. FreeNLovIt

    Yes, he wears many hats. We need that type of Prez since we have so many problems. I feel bad he'll be stuck with Iraq and Afghan for a long, long time.

    March 25, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Mari

    Wow........ the far-right is on attack as usual. Obviously the far-right-folks making comments about teleprompters did not watch any Obama interviews. SO ignorant!

    And there are a few far-right-nuts as usual. The only thing the GOPers have to offer America is lies, negativity, complaints, division and hate. Not one GOP offers solutions nor an idea worth considering.

    @ ANITA....... Well said! Bravo! Apparently, the GOP does not want a UNITED States, they are better off if we are fragmented and questioning one another's patriotism.......... that's fascism. You pit one American against another, lie enough times so that people begin to believe your lies and you've got the beginnings of ........ fascism.

    GOOD NEWS IS....... 63% OF AMERICANS APPROVE OF OBAMA (higher than the LAST four presidents at the same point in there First 100 Days!).

    I say LET THE GOP CONTINUE THEIR RANT, OBSTRUCTION AND NEGATIVITY........ AMERICA IS WATCHING HOW THEY BEHAVED DURING A NATIONAL CRISIS.

    March 25, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Michael

    How about raising 9 to 10 trillion dollars to cover the deficit over the next decade that will result for the Obama Big Government spending bubble.

    China already has reservations about investing more in US debt. China currently has about 2 trillion of reserve to invest and about a trillion is invested in the US. Even if China wants to invest more in the US, it can't begin to come even close to cover another 9 to 10 trillion.

    The future revenue growth projected from the Obama budget does not come even close to covering the spending growth. To balance the budget like Clinton did you have to do the opposite.

    Guess all the Obama supporters are going to have to dig deep beyond their current tax obligations to cover his record setting deficits.
    Any volunteers. Come on cough it up for the change we can all believe in.

    March 25, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Johhny Hotrod

    Obama is more concerned about his Wed cocktail party at the white house (who's paying for that, oh, forgot, probably in the stimulus bill).If he'd stay off of Leno, the NCAA brackets and just take a job at ESPN we'll all be better. And take Biden and Pelosi with him........

    March 25, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    This disgusts me; both the Democrats and the GOP are more concerned with fundraising for their re-election than the crisis at hand. We the people have lost most of our life's savings and retirement in the last year we have lost our jobs, homes, and liberty. But that is of no concern for the elite that are shown to uphold of Constitution.
    And who are they raising funds from? Is the funding coming from “ We the People”? Or is this business as usual for the two major parties funding from corporate donations, special interest groups, unions, PACs, and Lobbyists? Most of who do not live in USA. How do we the people get representation of the people, by the people and FOR the people, if the major parties are allowed to get donations from everywhere even from outside the USA to get elected?

    March 25, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Rick

    Obama is not calling the shots. The George Soros lefty lunatics are. Obama is strictly the salesman and a miserable president to boot.

    March 25, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. Tom

    "Talking" to the American People during an economic crisis is NOT campaigning.

    The role of the President is to set direction, put teams in place to implement those plans, and make the difficult decisions to make that happen.

    He also has an obligation to explain himself and his programs to the American People, which is exactly what he did with the Leno program, 60 minutes, and last night's press conference.

    Just because the press couldn't stump the President, doesn't mean they got a chance to ask whatever questions they wanted.

    Give it a rest.

    I'd rather have Obama on air, answering questions, than have Bush sitting in the WH or at his ranch in Crawford, refusing to be accountable to the American People.

    March 25, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. Shirley in California

    Don't worry CNN when the time comes to vote again I will give whatever I have to the DNC. Stop fabricating news.

    March 25, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. Tom

    And for all of you who keep trying to discredit Obama's popularity...

    His ratings in the 60's are AMAZING for a President that has had to deal with so much in so short a time.

    It's not as if he was like Bush or Clinton, at a comparable time in office, who didn't have a financial crisis, two wars, and a 24x7xtwitter mentality.

    This guy is going big. No small ball, here.

    That his popularity has remained high is testament that the MANDATE he received for change remains strong.

    March 25, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. phoenix

    Bravo! Mr. President "the people champ".

    March 25, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. FreeNLovIt

    God help us!!! Obie has and all of us HAS one SHOT to get this right and I so hope and pray that we have the right mix in it, otherwise, we WILL all have to SLEEP with EU.

    March 25, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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