Bloomberg News

Obama Raises Money as Republicans Campaign to Challenge Him

January 17, 2012

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama was in his home town of Chicago to raise money and rally his campaign staff as the Republicans seeking to challenge him moved their race to South Carolina.

Obama sought to fire up supporters at three events yesterday where he recounted his record, including revamping the health-care system and bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq. He urged them to revive the spirit of his 2008 campaign.

“Because of what you did in 2008, we’ve begun to see what change looks like,” Obama said at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election.”

Obama used the appearances to draw out what he said were the “contrasting visions” for the country that he and his Republican rivals are offering. He said they would weaken pollution laws, cut education programs and Medicare and adopt economic policies that would weaken middle-income families.

“The Republicans in Congress, the presidential candidates who are running, they’ve got a very specific idea about where they want to take this country,” he said. “They said they want to reduce the deficit by gutting our investments in education and gutting our investments in research and technology, letting our infrastructure further deteriorate.”

Obama has been the main target of Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He told an audience in Manchester, New Hampshire, Jan. 10 that Obama “has run out of ideas” and is “running out of excuses.”

Dueling Campaign

Obama’s campaign trip -- one day after the New Hampshire primary -- followed a forum at the White House on “Insourcing American Jobs,” to encourage companies to locate jobs in the U.S. and not abroad. Obama similarly chose the day after the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa for public events, traveling to the swing state of Ohio to announce his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“President Obama spends the entire caucus and primary period leading up to each event being rhetorically beaten to a pulp by these Republican candidates,” said Dennis J. Goldford, professor of politics at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. “It’s certainly helpful to get yourself out there” to respond, he said.

Obama dropped by the Chicago headquarters of his re- election organization to speak to several hundred campaign workers before making the rounds seeking donations.

Raising Money

The event at the university was the largest of three fundraisers last night. It featured singer Janelle Monae and actor Hill Harper. It was expected to draw about 500 donors including younger voters, with tickets starting at $44.

The other two fundraisers were hosted by media executive Fred Eychaner and Stuart Taylor, chief executive officer of the Taylor Group LLC and a former Bear Stearns & Co. executive, according to a Democratic Party official who wasn’t authorized to comment publicly.

Tickets for the more exclusive gatherings, expected to draw about 160 guests combined, range from $7,500 to $35,800 per person, the official said. Donations benefit the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. For the $35,800 tickets, a $5,000 maximum contribution would go to Obama’s re-election and $30,800 to the party committee.

The fundraisers and political messaging are designed to take advantage of a brief lull between Republican primaries, Goldford said. The South Carolina contest is on Jan. 21.

The jobs forum at the White House gave Obama a platform to “show that he is the president, not a petty partisan political figure,” Goldford said.

As for the fundraisers, he said that “any time is a good time to raise money,” particularly now when supporters “can actually feel they’re doing something to counteract” the attacks on Obama.

--With assistance from Joe Sobczyk in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at mtalev@bloomberg.net

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


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