President Barack Obama will have his first chance to publicly assess the newly completed Republican ticket at a series of fundraisers today in his adopted hometown of Chicago.
Obama’s events, including one at his home on the city’s south side, are his first public appearances since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his selection of seven-term Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate, a decision that will change the dynamics of the presidential race in its closing months.
The Obama campaign has had months of practice criticizing Ryan and his alternative to the president’s budget, which would cut government spending and overhaul U.S. entitlements, eventually transitioning Medicare into a voucher system.
“The interesting question is, does this make the debate about the future as envisioned by Ryan instead of the future envisioned by Romney?” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication in Philadelphia.
Obama today is opening up his home for the first time in his re-election campaign for one of five fundraisers today as he seeks to bring in between $3.5 million and $4 million for his race against Romney.
“This is the newest, exclusive right of the fundraiser: to get to go to the president’s old home in Chicago,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The pressures increased, so the interest to raise the money increases, so you do everything possible to get that last dollar.”
The two candidates are capping a week of sharp attacks by embarking on dueling bus trips through crucial electoral swing states. Obama will spend three days campaigning in Iowa starting tomorrow and Romney is visiting Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, states Obama won in 2008, on his bus tour which kicked off yesterday.
Guests attending the fundraiser at Obama’s home will pay $40,000 each, according to an Obama campaign official.
Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, a pro-disclosure group based in Washington, said he’s not surprised by the choice of venue.
“Obama’s campaign has marketed fundraisers in all different kinds of ways, everything from the $3 a pop to win a chance to have dinner with the president to the extremes of opening up his own home,” he said. “I just can’t think of a better way to gain access to somebody than to say: ‘Meet with me in my home.’”
Romney and aligned party committees raised more money than Obama and Democrats for the third straight month in July: the Republicans brought in more than $101.3 million in July, while Obama and Democratic committees exceeded $75 million.
Ryan could help Romney raise even more funds as one of the top political fundraisers in Congress. Ryan has more than $5.4 million in his campaign account, about $2 million more than the next highest House member, according to Federal Election Commission data.
Obama has held 201 fundraisers for his re-election campaign and the DNC in 2011 and 2012 so far. At the same point eight years ago, then-President George W. Bush, a Republican, had done 78 such fundraisers.
Earlier in the day Obama will attend a small roundtable in downtown Chicago with tickets running $40,000 a person. Then he will attend a lower dollar event where tickets start at $51 a person, followed by the $40,000 a person event at his home. He will cap off the day with two fundraisers at other private homes in Chicago: the first with tickets starting at $5,000 and the final fundraiser of the day with tickets costing $1,000 each.
Sunday’s fundraising is not a record for single-day fundraising events, according to Brendan Doherty, a U.S. Naval Academy political science professor who writes about fundraisers in his book, “The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign.”
According to Doherty, Obama set the record two months ago. On June 1 the president held six fundraisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles and on June 12 he held six fundraisers in Baltimore and Philadelphia. The fundraising spree broke the record of five fundraisers in a day set by former President George H.W. Bush on October 23, 1990, followed by former President Bill Clinton on October 4, 2000 and October 22, 2000.