Tales from the Trail

Obama heads to Florida for re-election fundraising effort

President Barack Obama on Thursday will travel to Florida for a fundraiser at a hotel in Miami with hundreds of guests that could raise at least $1 million for the Democratic incumbent and Democrats’ re-election coffers, according to a major donor.

“People are enthusiastic about how the race is going — the danger of a Romney administration is less likely — but this election is far from over,” said Kris Korge, a Florida businessman helping to organize the event.

Romney enjoyed a jump in several opinion polls after a strong debate performance last week against an strikingly tepid Obama. A positive jobs report on Friday gave Obama some positive news, but poll aggregator RealClearPolitics showed the presidential race tightening in Florida and other key swing states.

Fundraisers in Florida reached their third quarter goal to give at least $5 million to the campaign, said Korge, who has himself raised hundreds of thousands. Obama’s campaign and its Democratic allies raised $181 million in September, the largest total announced this election cycle.

In August, Obama and the DNC raised more than $114 million, narrowly beating Romney’s $111 million haul. Before that, Romney and Republicans had outraised Obama and the Democrats for the preceding three months.

Hollywood actors pose for Obama campaign social media drive

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is launching a “celebrity portrait shot” social media drive, a source close to the campaign said, drawing again on its base of Hollywood supporters to drum up enthusiasm for the Democratic incumbent ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

The source said that the initiative would bring between 20 and 30 actors – such as KaDee Strickland from medical drama “Private Practice,” Ashley Fink of TV musical series “Glee,” and Penny Marshall of the classic sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” – to a production studio in Culver City, California to be photographed in black and white for roughly 15 minutes on Friday.

The portraits will be blasted out over social media websites, like Twitter, with links to the Obama campaign’s website, where supporters can sign up to volunteer for or donate to the Democratic incumbent’s re-election drive.

Gingrich offers “dream team” to supporters

For a $100 donation, this free poster of Newt Gingrich and his conservative “Dream Team” can be yours.

The poster — featuring the Republican presidential candidate flanked by endorsers of his White House bid  — was offered to supporters Tuesday in a new fundraising appeal.

The Dream Team photo was unveiled at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington last week. The Gingrich campaign said it was hit, and now conservatives across the  country are clamoring for a copy of their own.

Obama says biggest task left for him is to fix U.S. politics

President Barack Obama has lots of reasons he wants to hold on to the White House in 2012.

There’s energy policy, for example, which he would like to revamp. There’s immigration reform, which he hopes to “implement.”

But at a fundraiser on Monday night, the president said the real challenge he had left to handle was “fixing” the political atmosphere in Washington.

Big campaign bucks don’t always spell victory

Expectations for massive fund-raising in the 2012 election may obscure one point — big bucks don’t always lead to victory. And in fact, too much spending — especially in the form of too many advertisements — can turn off voters.

There have been several notable examples of heavy, but ultimately fruitless, outspending in recent elections.

In the 2010 midterms, Republican Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, spent $140 million of her own money, or about $43 per vote,to campaign for governor against Democrat Jerry Brown.  Brown spent $7.50 per vote to defeat her by 12 percentage points, in a race that was a rare bright spot for Democrats in elections that saw most Republicans sweep to victory.

Former “start-up” Obama wouldn’t mind being as popular as…SpongeBob

obama_sanfranHe’s been president of the United States for about two-and-a-half  years, but Barack Obama still remembers being a “start-up” — and he wouldn’t mind being as popular as SpongeBob SquarePants.

The Democratic president, who is in the middle of a road show to sell his ideas for cutting the deficit, spent the evening in San Francisco on Wednesday raising money for his campaign, and he targeted tech-savvy donors who had started successful companies of their own.

“Some of you are involved in start-ups, well I was a start-up just not so long ago,” Obama told a dinner fundraiser at the home of Marc Benioff, the chief executive of salesforce.com.

Is Palin fundraising a path to 2012?

sarah_buttonIs 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin  laying the groundwork for a 2012 presidential run?

Some experts reading the tea leaves, or pages from her fundraising reports, think the answer may lie in the numbers.

The former Alaska governor’s political action committee, Sarah PAC, tells the Federal Election Commission it raised more than $865,000 in the last quarter. About half the money came from small donors, people who gave $200 or less.

Romney rakes in the dough, gives generously

USA-POLITICS/Former, and perhaps future, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney raked in some serious cash — $1.6 million — for his political action committee during the first half of 2009, despite the recession.

Romney, who dropped out of the 2008 presidential campaign after poor showings in the early primaries despite raising huge sums of money, is considered one of the untainted potential candidates for 2012. Problems saddling fellow Republicans like outgoing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Nevada Senator John Ensign have put their presidential aspirations in question.

In addition to trying to stockpile some cash in case he decides he will make another White House bid, Romney donated $5,000 to Missouri Republican Representative Roy Blunt, who is running for Senate in 2010, and Republican Bob McDonnell, who is seeking Virginia’s governorship.

Republicans seek dough to help defeat Specter after his defection

Reaction among Republicans to Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to defect to the Democratic party ranged from somber disappointment to outrage, and now the Republican National Committee hopes to capitalize on that anger.

USA/RNC Chairman Michael Steele sent an e-mail to supporters expressing his outrage and disbelief that Specter was blaming his fellow Republicans for leaving. He beseeched party members to send in donations to help defeat Specter in the 2010 election.

“He simply believes he has a better chance of saving his political hide and his job as a Democrat,” Steele said in the e-mail. ”He loves the title of senator more than he loves the party — and the principles — that elected him and nurtured him.”

Sarah Palin starts a PAC

If you thought Sarah Palin was going to just fade away, you clearly weren’t listening when she said the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was lipstick. 
 USA/SENATE-GEORGIA
The Alaska governor, who was the Republican nominee for vice president in the race that John McCain lost to Democrat Barack Obama last year, is already laying the groundwork for another run at something.
 
She has started her own political action committee, SarahPAC, complete with a website. And she’s learned a trick from Obama — the site’s main feature is a page where you can put down your name and donate $25 or $5,000 or more. 
 
“Welcome to SarahPAC, Sarah Palin’s official PAC,” the site says. “Dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.”
 
“SarahPAC believes the Republican Party is at the threshold of an historic renaissance that will build a better future for all,” the site says. “Health care, education and reform of government are among our key goals.”
 
The site’s home page shows Palin against a backdrop of Alaska’s sweeping mountain vistas.
 
While declaring it is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee, SarahPAC has a full biography of the former vice presidential candidate.
 
It notes she made history by becoming the first woman governor of Alaska and the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket.
 
“Gov. Palin has a long record of achievement and experience in public office,” it says, including her service as governor, her time as mayor of the town of Wasilla and her stint on the Wasilla City Council.

For more Reuters political news, click here.
 
Photo credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Palin campaigns for Senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia in December)