Bloomberg News

Obama Seeks Funding, Support for Policies on Western Swing

October 24, 2011

(Updates with Obama remarks in 15-20 paragraphs. For more on the 2012 presidential campaign, see ELECT.)

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama raised campaign cash in one of the states hardest hit by the recession, telling about 300 supporters in Las Vegas that he has kept his promises even as his agenda remains unfinished.

Obama’s first stop on a three-day trip through Nevada, California and Colorado was the Bellagio Hotel for an event where ticket prices started at $1,000. In between stops to talk about his economic proposals in Las Vegas and Denver, he is seeking to raise at least $5 million with six fundraisers and will make an appearance tomorrow on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

“I can promise you what happens in the coming year is going to be even more consequential” than the last election, Obama told his audience today. “We’ve made an enormous difference already, but we’ve got so much work to do.”

The president is campaigning for re-election in 2012 with the nation’s unemployment rate stalled at 9.1 percent in September and the White House Office of Management and Budget forecasting that it will average 9 percent next year.

Republicans are seeking to make the election a referendum on Obama’s handling of the economy. He is countering by accusing opponents in Congress of blocking measures that would help spur hiring and economic growth and trying to return to policies that helped lead to the recession.

“What they’re proposing, we tried for 10 years,” Obama told the crowd at the hotel.

‘Thinner’ Support

Obama’s support in traditionally Democratic states like California “is likely to be much thinner in the election this time,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey.

It will become harder for the president to raise campaign money “as the Republicans coalesce against someone” after they select their candidate, he said. “The money and the moderates will certainly flow toward GOP candidates this time.”

Even with the clouded economic outlook, Obama’s campaign raised $42.1 million from July to September, the fourth-largest fundraising quarter ever in a non-election year.

Combined with $27.3 million for the Democratic National Committee, the Obama campaign operation took in $70 million in the last three months.

Obama has now taken in $89 million for his 2012 campaign. Four years ago, he raised $80 million through Sept. 30, 2007, when he started raising money three months earlier. His six- month total is second only to the $98 million for George W. Bush from July through December 1999, Federal Election Commission records show.

California Fundraisers

In addition to the Las Vegas event, Obama attended two other fundraisers tonight in Los Angeles.

The first was at the home of film producer James Lassiter in Hancock Park, where tickets cost $35,800 per person, according to a Democratic Party official, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the events.

Obama told approximately 40 guests, including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers star turned entrepreneur, actor Will Smith and his wife actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and singer and actress Hillary Duff, that he’s gotten “about 60 percent” of what he’s wanted accomplished. “That’s not bad for three years because I need another five.”

He listed the health-care overhaul, repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on gays serving in the military, and ending the war in Iraq among his accomplishments.

‘Perversely Partisan’

“Sometimes I think people forget how much has gotten done,” he told the small gathering at a seated dinner in the Spanish style home. He said the politics in Washington are “still dysfunctional” and “perversely partisan.”

Senate Republicans “don’t think that politically it’s advantageous” to support policies that he supports, he said.

He ended his remarks by telling them that he needs a base that will “amplify” his message for 2012.

“This election will not be as sexy as the first one,” he said. “But the cause is the same and my passion is the same.”

Obama will also go to the home of actress Melanie Griffith for another fundraiser with about 120 people. Ticket for that event start at $5,000, the party official said.

Since taking office Obama has visited California 10 times and almost every stop has included a fundraiser. On Sept. 25-26 he went to fundraisers at the home of Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Symantec Corp. chairman John W. Thompson and two star-studded fundraisers in West Hollywood.

The campaign also has fundraisers scheduled in San Francisco and Denver.

Republican Rivals

Obama is well ahead of the Republicans vying for their party’s presidential nomination: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $14.2 million from July to September, and Texas Governor Rick Perry announced Oct. 5 that his campaign had raised more than $17 million in the third quarter.

Obama won the three states he is visiting and all have a higher unemployment rate now than they did when he took office. While California has been reliably Democratic in the last five presidential elections, Colorado and Nevada are swing states that went Republican in 2000 and 2004.

Nevada has the highest home foreclosure rate and unemployment rate -- 13.4 percent -- in the country.

--With assistance from Roger Runningen and Jonathan Salant in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, John Brinsley

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Los Angeles, California at kandersen7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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