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17 Mar 2012 08:15
US President Barack Obama, juggling dual roles as fundraiser extraordinaire and commander-in-chief, piled up a cool $5-million in a lucrative single-day campaign blitz.
In no other country is a leader expected to tend to a deteriorating war he is leading in Afghanistan on the same day as conducting the business of stuffing millions into his war chest to bankroll his own political career.
But such is the cost of running for president in America, where campaign teams play on a vast and complex political map, building expensive grass roots get-out-of the vote networks and multi-million dollar advertising blasts.
Obama started Friday in Washington, in the early hours, trying to talk Afghan President Hamid Karzai down after a fresh broadside at America’s war strategy, as he fumes after a US soldier launched a rampage killing 16 civilians.
Later, Obama was aboard as Air Force One nosed into the murky skies over Washington, heading to a five-event, two city, 1 700 mile odyssey of events in a vast hotel ballroom, huge film studio and intimate living room setting.
Going home—to Chicago—for four hours, Obama amassed $2.1-million, first giving a pep talk to 600 loyal supporters in a ballroom under glistening chandeliers, who paid at least $2 500 a head.
Obama’s mission: inspire the hoards who gathered at his 2008 victory rally in a nearby park to sign up to fight one more battle.
Paying for face time
“As much as 2008 was exciting and as much as all of us, I think, saw that night in Grant Park as the culmination of something—it was actually just the beginning of what we are fighting for,” Obama said.
“That is what 2012 is about. I know it’s been a tough few years, I know that when you see what’s going in Washington sometimes it is tempting to believe that what we believed in 2008 was an illusion.
“It is easy to slip back into cynicism.
Remember what we said in the last campaign.
Then, Obama retreated to more exclusive company—a roundtable for 60 well-heeled supporters who were each paying at least $10 000 dollars for some face time with the local boy made good.
Obama has already raised more than $140-million dollars for his reelection bid and experts believe he is well on the way to trumping the more than $700-million he piled up in his 2008 run for the White House.
He will likely fall short though of the staggering one billion dollar figure some campaign watchers fully expected him to haul in.
Money may be even more important to Obama this year than in 2008.
Free to fund
Thanks to a much debated Supreme Court decision individual rich donors and corporations are now free to throw unlimited millions of dollars into so-called Super PAC committees to support a candidate and savage his opponents.
Republicans, who believe Obama’s presidency is a bust, with unemployment at 8.3 % and gasoline prices on the rise, see the unshackled system as a way to compete with Obama’s fundraising prowess.
Though Obama’s events have being taking on a more partisan tone, the White House insists that the president—kept waiting by a winding Republican nominating race of an opponent in November’s election is not campaigning.
But days like Friday, which came a day after a brawling partisan trip to Ohio by Vice President Biden and a campaign film glorifying the president as a steely leader, make that conceit harder to maintain.
Obama Friday took his total to 110 fundraisers since he launched his bid for the second term that all presidents crave.
They range from big rallies to small affairs where the richest donors pay up to $35 800 to break bread with the president, ask him questions away from the prying eyes of the press, and get to bend his ear on a pet cause.
After 90 minutes streaking to the Deep South on air force one, Obama was in an Atlanta living room, with a well-heeled largely African American set, after evoking screams by plunging into a crowd of neighbours outside.
Tickets for sale
“As satisfied as I am with some of the progress we’ve made ... I know we have still got a lot of work to do,” Obama said, as admirers crowded around.
“The good news is, because of people like you, I expect to have another five years to do it,” he said to whoops and cheers, at an event where a ticket cost $10 000 a head.
Later Obama headed to the studios of African American actor and producer Tyler Perry for an event before a 1000 strong crowd with tickets costing $250 and $500.
He then repaired to Perry’s chateau-style mansion, where 40 guests, including Obama supporter and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey had paid 35 800 dollars to spend just over an hour with the president.
According to campaign figures, the minimum take from Friday’s events was $4.8-million, but the true figure was likely over $5-million.—AFP
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