Inside Obama’s Courtship of Dem Donors

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


With conservative heavyweights planning to spend lavishly to topple President Obama—the White House anticipates $500 million or more in outside spending—the biggest challenge facing Obama aides and the Democratic Party is amassing a campaign war chest large enough to fight back against the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups, and so on.

The Wall Street Journal today has an in-depth look at the Obama team’s early courting of donors in cities such as Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York. The “strategy briefings” by Obama aides, featuring the requisite PowerPoint presentation branded with the “Change the Matters” slogan, emphasizes the president’s “clear but narrowed support” in blue-collar, Midwestern states, but points out the stiff challenge facing Obama from deep-pocketed donors on the right. More from the WSJ:

The president’s political aides, people at the meetings said, are trying to establish stronger ties to some of these donors as they navigate what may be a difficult fund-raising environment.

Part of Mr. Messina’s presentation is to caution donors that while Mr. Obama has recovered after the trouncing his party took in the 2010 elections and is well-positioned for 2012, he will face a tough re-election fight that will require substantial donor support, according to people familiar with the presentation…

When he discussed the emerging GOP field in Miami, Mr. Messina made no mention of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, participants said, even though Mr. Pawlenty has clearly been taking steps to build a White House campaign.

But Mr. Messina did talk about what Obama aides see as likely vulnerabilities for Jon Huntsman, the president’s outgoing ambassador to China, who is leaving his post to consider a campaign against his boss. The focus on Mr. Huntsman suggests Democrats see a threat in the former Utah governor, considered a moderate among potential GOP candidates…

Mr. Messina’s pitch to donors stresses the need to build a network in states of small business owners and religious leaders, particularly among Latino and African-American voters. His overall message, according to a Florida donor, was, “We’re in good shape, and we want to reconnect with you.”

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest