Politics

              President Barack Obama, escorted by House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, right, waves as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 13, 2013, for closed-door talks with House Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican Conference to discuss the budget. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Obama tells wealthy donors his campaign club can beat voter opposition

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama hosted his first fundraiser for his Oval Office campaign group on Wednesday evening, and he told his wealthy donors that their checks will help Democratic and Republican politicians vote against the wishes of their own constituents.

“If you have a senator or a congressman in a swing district who is prepared to take a tough vote … on immigration reform, or legislation around background checks for guns, I want to make sure that they feel supported and that they know that there are constituencies of theirs who agree with them, even if they may be getting a lot of pushback in that district,” he declared to the roughly 70 attending donors who are fueling his unprecedented group, dubbed Organizing For Action.

“If we do it well, then I’m confident that we can move strong immigration legislation … we can get common-sense gun safety legislation … we can craft a budget that is responsible,” he declared.

The group’s support — and pressure — could also be aimed at Democratic politicians worried about supporting his agenda, he hinted.

Throughout his speech, he deflected growing bipartisan criticism over his group, which is accepting money from wealthy donors — although not from company accounts or from people who have registered as lobbyists.

That criticism has come from Common Cause, Democracy 21, the Washington Post editors, some reporters, and other liberal groups. (RELATED: Left-wing group urges Obama to close down the operation)

But the protests have not prompted any Democratic legislators, judges or regulators to set curbs on the president’s meeting with his donors, or on his government decisions, which could help or hurt those donors.

To defend his fundraising, he said his political rivals use “special interest groups and well-financed organizations.”

But his supporters are “true believers,” he insisted.

“One of the things I’m proudest of during the course of two campaigns where we raised an awful lot of money is that the people who got involved didn’t ask me for stuff except to be true to my vision and true to our agenda,” he claimed.

He downplayed the many high-dollar donors in his campaign and at the fundraiser, and instead played up small donors.