By Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein
Class warfare has been the topic du jour this year and is likely to be a major theme of the 2012 election. In a speech two weeks ago, President Barack Obama blasted his Republican foes and Wall Street as he portrayed himself as a champion of the middle class.
In a speech meant to echo a historic address given by former President Theodore Roosevelt in the same Kansas town more than 100 years ago, Obama railed against “gaping” economic inequality and pressed the case for policies he insisted would help ordinary Americans get through hard times.
Not surprisingly, some hedge fund managers were none too pleased.
In fact, hedge-fund industry titan Leon Cooperman “front-ran” Obama’s populist speech by widely circulating an “open letter” to Obama, arguing that “the divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them.”
The Omega Advisors founder went on to say, “To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment.”
Cooperman is not alone in his positing Obama as an enemy of Wall Street’s elite. Other hedge fund managers who have either publicly criticized Obama or raising money to defeat him include John Paulson, Dan Loeb, Cliff Asness and Paul Singer. Many hedge fund managers are lining-up to raise money for Mitt Romney, who made his fortune working at private equity firm Bain Capital.