Obama fundraises while markets slide

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama had a bad day at the White House, but a good day on the campaign fundraising circuit.

After watching the Dow Jones index drop 635 points, following his brief lunchtime statement, he spent the evening at two fundraisers in D.C. Roughly 140 people attended the $7,500 per plate — $15,000 per family — event at the home of Don and Katrina Peebles, raising $1 million for his re-election campaign. Roughly 60 people attended the second fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown D.C., according to a press report which did not include any financial data.

Obama’s brief speech at the first event suggested that he plans an aggressive campaign for 2012. “It’s going to be as fundamental a debate as 2008 … the contrast is going to be clear and it’s going to be sharp … [there will be a] clear, forceful campaign,” he said.

“We’re now looking at 16 months in which there’s going to be a clear contrast and a clear choice to be made,” he told his second audience at the St. Regis. “I’m going to be fighting as hard as I can for that vision of an America that is generous and big and bold and aggressive in promoting equal opportunity for all people all across this land.”

At both events, he called for increased taxes, and emphasized “fairness.” “We’re going to have to fix our tax code, because for years it has been rife with loopholes, and for years it’s been inefficient, and for years it hasn’t been fair … we’ve got to do it in a way that is reflective of who we are as Americans, and that means that everybody pitches in in order to make sure that the country is successful.”

“If we went back to the [tax] rates that existed when Bill Clinton was President and we made some modest adjustments to Medicare that preserved the integrity of the system, our long-term debt and deficit problems would go away,” he said at that St. Regis. “Most people here wouldn’t notice those changes,” he added, in a nod to the net-worth of his donors. (RELATED: RNC wants probe into Obama fundraising video)

Obama’s campaign officials want to raise more money than the $760 million raised during his 2008 campaign. But the economic recession, and some wealthy donors’ dissatisfaction with his policies, may prevent his campaign from reaching a touted goal of $1 billion.

In July his campaign reported donations of $47 million during the second quarter of the year. The Democratic National Committee raised $38 million during the same period, and frequently shared fundraising events with the Obama campaign.

A large percentage of this money came from wealthy donors and people who bundle donations from other wealthy people. For example, 217 bundlers listed by the campaign’s website in a July 15 statement could have provided roughly 75 percent of the second-quarter donations, according to a analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics.