Miami Cash Lures Obama, Clinton to 2016 Battleground FloridaToluse Olorunnipa
President Barack Obama will host a pair of fundraisers on Wednesday in Miami, the latest stop in an accelerated effort to generate cash for the Democratic Party.
The events are Obama’s fifth and six party fundraisers this month, his most active stint courting donors since the midterm elections last year. Obama’s May fundraising tour, which has included stops in New York, Portland, Oregon and Stamford, Connecticut, has raised millions of dollars for the Democratic National Committee.
The president will be featured at a roundtable and a dinner at the Miami homes of two campaign bundlers, with about 100 donors giving as much as $33,400 each. The events come a day before Hillary Clinton travels to Miami to raise money for her campaign. Obama is trying to bolster the Democratic Party’s treasury in advance of the 2016 elections.
“That’s part of legacy-building,” Susan MacManus, a politics professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said in a telephone interview. “He’s in a way passing the baton forward to whoever the Democratic nominee is.”
Obama has been the headliner for 11 fundraisers since the November midterms, with most of those coming in the last 30 days, according to the Democratic National Committee.
He has paired most of his fundraising this year with official events. He toured the headquarters of Nike Inc. and gave a speech on trade on May 8, after meeting with donors in Portland the night before. After a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy last week, he raised money in Stamford.
Taxpayers pick up the majority of the costs for presidential trips, even when political fundraising is involved, said Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy who wrote “The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign.” Political committees cover some of the tab, he said.
“When presidents pair official events with fundraisers, they are often criticized” for shifting the burden of the trip to taxpayers, Doherty said in a telephone interview. “And when they don’t pair official events with fundraisers, they’re criticized for neglecting their official duties to focus on fundraising.”
In Miami, Obama will visit the National Hurricane Center on Thursday and receive an annual briefing on the storm season that starts June 1.
He’ll spend more time courting the donors of South Florida, a top locale for political fundraising and a battleground in the race for the state’s 29 electoral votes. Though he’s not running for office again in 2016, Obama, who carried the state in 2008 and 2012, has visited Florida four times in the last four months.
Florida, the largest presidential swing state, could take on added importance in the 2016 contest with the state’s Senator Marco Rubio already in the race for the Republican nomination and former Republican governor Jeb Bush expected to run. Rubio and Bush both live in Miami and are courting Hispanic voters.
Clinton is making her first fundraising foray to Florida as a candidate on Thursday.
‘There’s a lot of people in Florida and there’s a lot of money in Florida and there’s a lot of support for the Clintons here,’’ Ben Pollara, Clinton’s Florida finance director during her 2008 campaign, said in a phone interview. “I think this will be the first of many trips.”
Obama and Clinton are not scheduled to cross paths while in the state.
Stephen Bittel, chairman of commercial real-estate advisory firm Terranova Corporation, and a top Obama fundraiser in 2012, will host the president on Wednesday at his home in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. About 60 donors will attend, according to the DNC.
The president will also visit the home of Joe Falk, a policy adviser with the law firm of Akerman LLP in Miami. About 30 donors will attend.
Donors attending Clinton’s events in South and Central Florida will pay $2,700 each.
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