POLITICS: PennAve

Crisis in Crimea doesn't slow White House money chase

By |
Politics,White House,New York City,Russia,Campaign Finance,Campaigns,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Fundraising,Ukraine,Crimea

While Washington waits for a response from Moscow in the second week of the crisis in Ukraine's Crimea region, the White House midterm money chase continues unabated.

On Tuesday night, President Obama headed to New York to attend a pair of $32,400-a-person fundraisers for Democrats' re-election efforts.

Billed as an intimate fireside chat with Obama, the first event benefited the Democratic National Committee and took place at the Manhattan home of venture-capital mogul Alan and Susan Patricof, a couple known for their financial support of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential race.

Obama then moved on to a second fundraiser at the home of Tony James, Blackstone president and CEO, to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Even though there are far more competitive Democratic than Republican Senate seats up for re-election this fall and its highly unlikely that Democrats will retake the House, Obama sold the crowd on the possibility of his party winning control of the lower chamber.

“If I have just a smidgen of a cooperative Congress, think what we can do these next two and a half years,” he said.

He also expressed a sense of urgency, telling attendees that the clock is ticking on his presidency.

“We don't have time to waste. I don't have time to waste,” he said. “The clock is ticking. There’s less than two years left… I want to squeeze every last little bit of work that I can during the remainder of my term so that, looking back, I'm going to be able to say that we left everything on the field and every single person I could help in this office -- which is such an incredible privilege -- I helped.”

The two Tuesday night fundraisers come after a weekend in which Obama made headlines for playing golf in Florida with former NFL star wide receiver Ahmad Rashad and former NBA star center Alonzo Mourning amid a showdown with Russia over Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. On March 20, Obama will attend a fundraiser at Mourning's Miami home to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan on ABC's “This Week” Sunday said Obama's trip to Florida “startles” her.

“I have been struck, actually — when it comes to criticizing President Obama ... it doesn't seem to me in some respects, [he] is acting like there is an air of crisis or urgency here,” she said. “He's sort of off for the weekend in a way that startles me in the middle of a crisis.”

Democrats have pushed back at the criticism, noting that President George W. Bush postponed his summer vacation to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, for just one day during the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Tuesday's fundraising events were just two of the 11 Obama has participated in the last month as he helps fill Democratic coffers ahead of the fall midterms, according to a list put together by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog.

Last week, Obama headlined a fundraiser at the home of former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb in McLean, Va., before heading up to Cambridge and Boston, Mass., for two DNC events.

Several vulnerable Democrats blame the rocky rollout of the healthcare.gov website last year for their difficult re-election prospects, and Obama has committed to lend a hand and his star power to help in any way he can.

“The president and everyone else involved in the effort to support Democratic candidates and incumbents is making the case that it's really important to turn out and exercise your right to vote, whoever you are,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

“He's going to do a number of things over the course of the year between now and November to support candidates and support the party.

This story was published March 11 at 3:11 p.m. and has been updated.

View article comments Leave a comment