Tales from the Trail

Will Obama be a $1 billion man? Democrats say not so fast

A persistent theme of President Barack Obama’s nascent re-election bid has been an expectation that the Democratic incumbent – who amassed a $750 million war chest when he won the White House in 2008 — will break his record this time and become the first candidate to raise $1 billion in campaign funds for 2012. 

The logic behind that figure? One bit of reasoning is that Obama and his then-rival Hillary Clinton together raised far more than $1 billion in 2008, showing there are plenty of Democratic wallets out there waiting to be opened this time.

Democratic Party officials have issued repeated dire warnings about Republicans’ fund-raising prowess, especially in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision that allowed unlimited spending by corporations, labor unions and other groups. Democrats say secret donations allowed under Citizens United helped fuel the Republicans’ huge success in the 2010 mid-terms.

Jim Messina, Obama’s Chicago-based re-election campaign manager, told top donors in the weeks before the president formally launched his re-election bid that Obama would have to raise “north of $750 million” this time around, according to a variety of sources including the Chicago Sun-Times.

But more recently, party aides have said, “Not so fast” about the $1 billion figure, insisting that no one in Obama’s circle — at the White House, Democratic National Committee or the campaign team in Chicago — has used that number. Different aides have stressed that the campaign does not expect to need that much money for 2012. Their reasons? Last time, they said, Obama was a relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois who needed to raise his profile high enough to win the Democratic nomination. He also faced a protracted primary fight against well-known opponents — Clinton, a former first lady, and John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004.

Washington Extra – Northern Exposure

Strange characters, quirky storylines and weird happenings out in Alaska.

Anyone hoping for a remake of Northern Exposure would have been disappointed by Sarah Palin’s Alaska, her new television series that aired last night and delivered a much straighter diet of “family adventure” and “flippin’ fun.”sarah3

The reality show, which drew a record five million viewers to TLC, showed the human side of a politician who is among the most polarizing in American politics today. It is the kind of positive media exposure money can’t buy, and got everyone talking again this morning about whether the former vice presidential nominee will run for the top job in 2012.

Washington Extra is not taking a position on that question. But after watching some of the shots of Alaska, I know where we are planning our next family vacation in 2011.

No politics or punditry for George W. Bush

When George W. Bush says he’s done with politics — believe it.

bush1Not even the queen of daytime TV could draw the former Republican president into commenting on the current political scene when Bush sat down with her to discuss his new book.

He makes it clear he has moved on from politics and that punditry is not his thing.

“I’m through with politics. It’s hard for people to believe. I already said that. I am through. I enjoyed it,” Bush says in excerpts of an upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey released Thursday.

Clinton open to coffee with Palin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is open to having coffee with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whose new book about the 2008 presidential campaign is stirring controversy.

“I absolutely would look forward to having coffee,” Clinton said from Singapore  Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Clinton told ABC’s “This Week” that she would look forward to having a chance to actually get to meet Palin.