President Barack Obama’s re-election effort raised more than $68 million in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, campaign manager Jim Messina said today. He also said that expectations for a $1 billion campaign are “completely untrue.”
The total, which was less than the $70 million taken in during the third quarter, includes funds raised by Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, including contributions received by the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee run by the two entities, and the Swing State Victory Fund. Today’s announcement brings the total for 2011 to more than $222 million.
“Too many Obama supporters think we don’t need their money or they don’t need to give now,” Messina said in a video release this morning. He said he receives e-mails from supporters who say “‘you don’t need our money now’ or ‘you’re going to raise a billion dollars.’”
“The billion-dollar number is completely untrue,” he said.
Obama for America, the president’s re-election campaign committee, collected more than $42 million in the fourth quarter, while the DNC received more than $24 million, Messina said. The remaining money was divided between the smaller campaign funds.
Messina said more than 583,000 people donated to the campaign. Of those, more than 200,000 people were new donors. More than 98 percent of donations were $250 or less, he said.
Obama in Chicago
Last night, the president was in his home town of Chicago to raise money and rally his campaign staff. He sought to fire up supporters at three events where he recounted his record, including revamping the health-care system and bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq, and urged those in attendance 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.”
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.”
Target of Romney
Obama has been the main target of the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor told an audience in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Jan. 10 that Obama “has run out of ideas” and is “running out of excuses.”
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.
Responding to Attacks
“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.
The event at the university was the largest of three fundraisers last night. It featured singer Janelle Monae and actor Hill Harper. It drew about 500 donors including younger voters, with tickets starting at $44.
The other two fundraisers were hosted by media executive Fred Eychaner and by Stuart Taylor, chief executive officer of the Taylor Group LLC, a private equity firm. Taylor said in introducing the president that more than 140 people were at his event, far more than the 80 to 100 that were expected.
Ticket prices for the more exclusive gatherings ranged 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.