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

New role for Obama: Fundraiser-in-chief

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. FreeNLovIt

    Dont worry about China. It's not taking over th world. EU is, according to the Bible.

    March 25, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Soccer Nana

    @ jm,

    You mean the less President Bush did, the more it is still costing all of us! April 1, 2009, a check for 10 billion dollars will be deposited in a bank somewhere in Iraq.

    President Obama is doing his job; the color of his skin is what is really bothering his haters.

    @ Carole,

    Move to The Ranch in Crawford; the owner started this mess we are in.

    @ Matthew in Detroit,

    President Bush and dictator Cheney ran the Country into the ground. Talk about selective memory.

    March 25, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Bob

    In October,my wife thought B Obama was out to wreck the country.i told her she was ,I'm not so sure.She is still nuts but she may be right.I don't trust what is going on.We need to SLOOOOW down and think things out .We can't just keep throwing things at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

    March 25, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Linda

    Of course the Reslugs have more money saved because why bother spending a plug nickel on their obvious presidential losers.

    March 25, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. KR

    Stop whining and come up some solutions or keep your negative thoughts to yourself. Bunch of fearmoners.

    March 25, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. big papa

    President Obama is exposing the Bush-Cheney-Limbaugh conservatives for what they are...

    ...unAmerican, hateful, racist, traitors...

    ...who would rather see America fail...

    ...than be the successful melting pot that it should be...

    I'm donating to the Democratic Party exactly BECAUSE President Obama is Commander-in-Chief...

    ...and the conservatives should go the way of the Whigs...

    ...You GO Mr. President...

    ...keep exposing them for the willful IDIOTS they are...

    March 25, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. the idiot

    That must be the reason the EFCA is so important, the unions have got to give more money and of course they and ACORN got a lot more from the porkulus package and the budget. Obama and the libs will have plenty of money with which to bamboozle the country again.

    March 25, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Anton

    it doesn't matter if it is the dem or the Rep side. how about calling it what it really is – Bribes. the "donors" will obviously expect return on the investment.

    it should be that each candidate recieves same fixed and limited amount o funds towards his campain from budget + set amount of airtime on media. and nothing more.

    March 25, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. I am constantly amazed:

    at the audacity of people who never peeped a voice of complaint the whole 8 years that Bush was in the White House and yet are now political gurus after only 60-odd days of Obama's presidency.

    March 25, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. reggie

    Obama needs to get to work NOT spending all his time in front of the cameras. GHEESH, the guy is always on TV...he should have been an actor. Actually, he is "acting" like he knows how to be president. He's not fooling's clear he has no idea what to do.

    March 25, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Richard A. Spomer, Alexandria, VA

    "Just tell him NO!" President OBAMA

    Those whom are part of the general voting public:

    Think first then, talk with others, ponder the issues especially those which concern the economical situations surrounding the budget and that will directly affect or impact this big beautiful country for the rest of its natural life. President Obama is just saying NO to responsibility! Then to some one who is realistic thinking, what would the country look like if we looked at social responsibility for solving the issues; because, President Obama believes in a socialistic approach to all those ills that are the problems with-in the United States of America. If we throw enough money at the problems, it will vanish, or just go away where as he is living in a fantasy world.

    He is standing by Timothy Geithner and Obama when in-fact he new of the AIG problems way before news broke, the same with Senator Chris Dodd

    March 25, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Obama raised a lot more money than McCain in 2008.

    Do you really believe that Obama’s popularity rating is in the 60s? You need to access some less biased polls.

    Fun fact that 80% of the Repubs voted yes on The Civil Rights Act of 1964 while only 60% of dems voted yes?

    March 25, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Brenda, TN.

    This is so good Mari, here it is again!

    March 25th, 2009 5:10 pm ET

    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!).


    March 25, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. Moving Forward!

    @PJP Your "BELOVED DUBYA" STARTED THE BORROWING FROM CHINA!!! We owe them the money that idiot borrowed in order to start the IRAQ WAR!!! Obama is trying to clean up after an 8 YEAR FRAT PARTY by the Republican Party which has resulted in the melt down of WALL STREET and the TOXIC business practices of firms like AIG!!

    If you gotta plan lets here it!!

    March 25, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  15. 35% of Americans are TRAITORS for wanting America to FAIL and 65% of Americans to SUFFER!

    All the Party of No can do is scream about tax increases for 1% of Americans and which do not go into effect until 2011, whine about “campaigning” and now fundraising yap about President Obama "being over his head", "tax cheats" in the Cabinet, birth certificates, Ayers and ACORN.

    These neo-con sound bites are still cluttering up this blog, which of course, once you read one of the above buzz words you immediately skip to the next post.

    All issues which the majority of American voters proved on resoundingly on 11/4 they did not care about.

    Like the shrub did not earn money for the Party of No, while he was in office.

    Spare me the faux neo-con concerns.

    March 25, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. tim


    You are close-minded. Of course Bush is at fault... he gave tax cuts when he shoudl have taken the surplus and kept it or invested it in America and not just to loosely give it back to the rich folks in America (trickle down).

    Now, Obama needs to spend money that should have been there for this occasion and get the economy back on track. It isn't Obama's fault for Bush's bad decisions.

    Bush used that money politically, not economically.

    March 25, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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