“This is my last election,” President Barack Obama assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last year, but the president’s post-reelection schedule suggests he has never stopped campaigning.
Since his second term began, Obama has headlined at least 15 fundraising events, according to an analysis of presidential events by The Daily Caller. That’s three times as many as President George W. Bush attended in the first six months of his second term, and a few more than President Bill Clinton — an inveterate campaigner who was widely condemned for spending too much time on politics during his presidency — attended in the same period of his second term.
Among the political events Obama has attended: a dinner at Alain Ducasse’s Adour restaurant to benefit Organizing for Action, the 501(c)(4) political organization that evolved out of Obama’s Organizing for America campaign nonprofit; a series of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee events at “Millionaire’s Row” residences in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff district, followed by fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee in Atherton, California and Dallas, Texas; a $10,000-a-plate luncheon [pdf] for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Atlanta, Georgia; and this week, two DCCC fundraisers in Chicago, the second one at the Streeterville home of longtime Obama backers Bettylu and Paul Saltzman, during which the president expressed sympathy for the unemployed and joked, “We’ve got kind of an Obama cabal in this room.”
According to CBS, Obama has committed to attending at least five more DCCC events and a similar number of DSCC events. Also this week, First Lady of America Michelle Obama raised $600,000 in Boston for Democratic Senate candidate Ed Markey and what reporter Keith Koffler estimates to be more than half a million dollars for the DNC at a New York City event featuring haute couture icons Anna Wintour and Vera Wang.
By contrast, Bush attended just five political events by this point in his second term, according to records at an archive of the Bush-era White House web site. Clinton — who, unlike Obama, was facing Republican control of both houses of Congress — attended 13, according to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.
The president’s perpetual campaign mode has begun to attract unwanted attention. Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer in March estimated to the New York Times that Obama had spent “the equivalent of five workweeks” on fundraising. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd has called new tactics by Organizing for America “selling access” to the White House. On Wednesday The New York Times wrapped Obama’s fundraising trips — many of which involve long-distance travel — into a general critique of Obama’s $180,000-an-hour use of Air Force One for less-than-vital business.
While Obama’s methods have been called into question, his goal — to win House and Senate seats for Democrats in 2014 — is clear.