Obama Fundraising Slips From Record-Setting Pace

Mar 19, 2012 7:52am

For the second consecutive month, President Obama has fallen off the record-setting fundraising pace he set four years ago.

His re-election campaign announced Monday that it raised $45 million in February, combining contributions to Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and two joint fundraising accounts — the Obama Victory Fund and Swing State Victory Fund.

In February 2008, Obama raised $56 million.

The campaign’s financial update, which will be formally reported to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, follows an aggressive push for cash in recent weeks by Obama and his campaign aides, who have at times appeared panicked by the complacency of some Democratic donors and the influence of pro-GOP super PACs.

“We cannot underestimate someone like [Mitt] Romney who has shown he will spend and say anything to win,” campaign manager Jim Messina warned in a fundraising appeal last week that highlighted polls showing Obama losing to Romney if the election were held today.

In an email blast at 3 a.m. earlier in the month, Messina was outright critical of the base:  “Too many Obama supporters are falling into a trap,” he wrote. “They’re waiting to donate until we have a clear opponent. There’s too much at stake, and not enough time, to be doing that.”

Obama and Democrats reported raising $29 million combined in January, down from $36 million raised in the same month four years ago.

While Obama’s fundraising totals have dwarfed those of his Republican rivals, including Romney, Democrats say they are concerned about the hundreds of millions of dollars being raised by independent GOP groups and the realization they may be unable to match.

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Obama which has struggled to draw financial support, reported raising just $2 million in February, half of which came from comedian Bill Maher.

Still, the Obama campaign believes it holds a significant edge over Republicans with an organizing operation underway across all 50 states and a broad base of grassroots volunteers.

More than 348,000 people contributed to Obama’s re-election in February, including 105,000 first-time donors, the campaign said.  All told, more than 1.5 million supporters have donated to Obama 2012.  The average donation was $59.

In a new web video,  state field directors highlight a slew of office openings, including five in Pennsylvania and seven in Ohio; recruitment of new volunteers, including 65 new team leaders in Nevada; and outreach to prospective voters through 28,000 phone calls in Washington state and registration of 5,000 new voters in North Carolina.  The video says 2,415 students have attended the campaign’s campus summits.

Obama and Democrats have raised close to $300 million combined for the 2012 presidential election campaign.  Obama raised a record $746 million during the entire 2007-2008 election cycle.

Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said any comparison of fundraising totals must consider the context of what was then an intense and lengthy primary campaign.

“This is money we’re either using to build our general election infrastructure or banking for use in the general,” LaBolt said of what Obama has raised so far for 2012.

The president has personally attended 107 fundraisers since announcing his re-election bid last April, including 40 this year alone.  He attends another high-dollar, closed press fundraiser this afternoon at the W Hotel in Washington.

This post has been updated from an earlier version.

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