A little over a year ago, independent analysts were projecting that Barack Obama’s re-election campaign could raise an unprecedented $1 billion. Now, the president’s team is lamenting he may be the first incumbent outspent by his opponent and has taken to asking supporters to forgo wedding gifts and ask their friends to donate to his campaign instead:
How the mighty have fallen.
We can get into the reasons for this drop-off, which includes fewer contributions from donors both large and small, but let’s also get ahead of an emerging meme in the election: that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are trying to “buy” the presidency.
Most of the people making these complaints didn’t have much to say four years ago, when Obama was the first major-party presidential candidate to forgo public campaign financing and outspent John McCain by half a billion dollars, or more than 3-to-1. And few of them will rue the fact that Obama will end up spending about as much money this time, just that Romney will far outpace McCain’s 2008 total and possibly edge the president.
Minus the hypocrisy, I have no problem with the lack of complaints about Obama in 2008. Campaign contributions are a form of political speech, and there simply were more people wishing to speak via their wallets in favor of Obama than for McCain. If McCain’s team thought it could have raised $500 million more in 2008 by forgoing public financing, I expect they would have done so. (If they thought so and held off anyway, well, they sure proved their point, huh?!?)
The fact is that, this time around, Obama has a record as president that he’s having a hard time defending. It appears there are fewer people this time wishing to speak on his behalf via their wallets, and more people speaking in favor of his opponent. If the left didn’t think there was a national campaign-finance crisis in 2008, they shouldn’t think there is one now.
And it’s not as if he isn’t out there trying to raise money. Today’s fund-raisers in Atlanta, among four today alone, bring Obama’s total number of events to 104 this year (more than one every two days) and 171 since he filed for re-election, according to Mark Knoller, White House correspondent for CBS News.
The message just isn’t selling — literally — this go around.
– By Kyle Wingfield