WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama will deliver the keynote address at a joint fundraiser tonight for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and its House counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - the fifth time in six months he's used his presidential star power to boost his party's fundraising fortunes.
Since taking office in January, Obama has headlined two party fundraisers in the nation's capital, one in Beverly Hills, California, and another in Indianapolis, Indiana. While in Indiana, he also served as the main attraction at a fundraiser for that state's Democratic representatives. Last month, he gave the keynote address at a fundraiser in Las Vegas for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
As CNN reported earlier this week, sources familiar with the event say the dinner will raise around $3 million, which falls far short of a recent GOP congressional fundraiser headlined by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Spokesmen for the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee said $14 million was raised at that event, held earlier this month in Washington.
Still, the two fundraisers are difficult to compare because Democrats refused donations from registered lobbyists and political action committees for this dinner. Obama does not accept contributions from political action committees and lobbyists.
While lobbyists and their big bucks won't be around tonight, they and their personal donations will be welcome tomorrow morning at a Democratic event at the same hotel that is not subject to Obama's lobbyist restrictions.
One of the Democratic sources said that attendees at this week's fundraiser are primarily new donors, while the other source noted that the ban on lobbyist and PAC donations was a temporary measure for this dinner, and that those traditional contributors will continue to give to congressional Democrats.
Still, the sizable money gap raises questions as to why a popular president and the congressional Democratic majority were not able to pull in more money at a major fundraiser.
A year and a half before the 2010 midterm elections, the congressional campaign committees are aggressively seeking to raise money. In the latest Federal Election Commission disclosures, the DSCC was carrying a debt of $4.6 million with a cash-on-hand balance of more than $2.6 million; the DCCC was $7 million in debt, and had $4 million in the bank; the NRSC had $2.6 million in the bank and no debt; and the NRCC was $5 million in debt and had about $3.7 million cash-on-hand.
While the President speaks in prime time, Vice President Biden will kick things off earlier in the day, addressing the DSCC/DCCC fundraiser this afternoon.
– CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Mark Preston contributed to this report