Obama and Romney: The 'Jekyll and Hyde' Candidates

PHOTO: US President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at the Lawyers For Obama luncheon and campaign event at the Palmer House Hilton on March 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois; President Barack Obama arrives to speak at a town hall style meetin
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It was all about money and mansions for Mitt Romney this weekend as he filled his already-brimming campaign coffers with five-figure fundraisers in the Hamptons, on Long Island, and in Aspen, Colo., places synonymous with the rich and famous.

But today that ritz and glitz will be replaced by bleachers and florescent lighting as Romney mingles with middle-class voters at a town hall in Grand Junction, Colo., where the median household income is less than the price of a plate at Romney's Aspen fundraiser.

Such is the life of a presidential candidate. One day, it's schmoozing with deep-pocketed donors in swanky resorts, the next it's glad-handing with school teachers and assembly line workers in rustic rural diners.

"It's a Jekyll and Hyde thing," said James Thurber, a government professor at American University. "They have to grab the money, grub after money, but they also have to look like they are not associated with that kind of activity."

Both Romney and President Obama often buffer their luxurious fundraising sprees with stops in small towns. And while cameras are often banned from the lavish fundraisers, they are more than welcome at those rural campaign stops.

"It's essential for the candidates to seem like they are home-town people," Thurber said. "One way that they organize this -- it's really a theater that they are creating -- is to have these settings like a farm in New Hampshire and to be in plaid shirt in a wagon or whatever."

After a two-day fundraising blitz through Colorado and California in late May, Obama jetted over to Iowa where he toured a wind turbine manufacturing plant and held a rally on the state fair grounds. Romney is employing the same strategy this week, following his fundraising spree in the Hamptons and the Aspen ski resort with a speech in a small Colorado town.

"High dollar fundraisers again don't send a great message to the run of the mill American people," Thurber said. "They have to start projecting what they want to seem like to the public, reaching out to people who are unemployed and who are in those small towns."

Both Romney and Obama have shattered fundraising records this year, and they aren't doing it in rural Iowa. While undecided voters in swing-state small towns are often the target of their campaigns, when it comes to collecting cash, both candidates have their sights set on big cities with high median incomes.

Washington, D.C., for example, where Obama has held 22 fundraisers this year, has a median household income of $58,000, according to Census data. That's at least $2,000 per year higher than in any of the cities on Obama's four-stop bus tour last week.

At one of those stops, in Parma, Ohio, where the median yearly household income is $49,000, Obama spoke to prospective voters from the picnic pavilion at the local park, which costs $25 to rent for the day.

The week before, the president was also meeting supporters, but at Hamersley's Bistro in Boston, where the average entrée costs more than renting the Parma pavilion and where the 25 supporters paid $40,000 each to eat with Obama, enough to re-build the entire pavilion about 12 times.

"It's predictable," Thurber said. "They are going to focus on battleground states for getting votes and they are going to focus on where the money is for getting money."

Following the money has led both candidates to the luxury Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan, where a basic room costs upwards of $400 per night.

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