Obama campaign video: Billion dollar rumors are ‘bullshit’

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tempered fundraising expectations for Obama’s 2012 campaign by dismissing earlier claims of a billion dollar campaign as “bullshit” in a new web video. (Skip to around 2:50 for the moment.)

“People have speculated this is a billion-dollar campaign,” said Messina. “That’s bullshit. We don’t take PAC money, unlike our opponents. We fund this campaign in contributions of three dollars or five dollars or whatever you can do to help us expand the map, to put more people on the ground, to build a real grassroots campaign that is going to be the difference between winning and losing.”


Thus far in the 2012 campaign, Obama’s fundraising is dominated by wealthy donors, not small-scale donors.

Additionally, the video did not actually promise to raise less than $1 billion. Nor did Messina advertise a lower target of $500 million or $750 million.

Instead, he pitched five paths to victory, each of which requires more funding to hire campaign workers, run TV and Internet ads, rent facilities and produce videos.

But those strategies also require the aid of many enthusiastic volunteers who may be less enthusiastic about working for an incumbent who is spending $1 billion to overcome low polls and a stalled economy, or who is using extensive  attack ads to go after his opponents.

The Obama campaign has pushed back against the $1 billion projections for several months, partly because the president wants to portray the eventual Republican candidate as a creature of the wealthy and powerful.

This strategy worked well in 2008, even though Obama took in far more money from Wall Street companies than his opponent, Sen. John McCain.

To downplay the campaign’s reliance on wealthy, progressive donors, it is vigorously seeking smaller donations from Democratic partisans. One tactic is raffling tickets for dinners with Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden.

Each small donation reduces the average donation to the campaign, thereby helping Obama to present himself as being funded by average Americans.

The five strategies outlined by Messina are:

A Western path to 272 electoral votes for Obama, based on victories in Colorado, Nevada, Iowa and Arizona — plus the usual blue states — while losing Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio to the Republican candidate. That map leaves the GOP candidate with 265 electoral votes.

Winning Florida would give Obama 275 votes, even if he also lost Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina, Messina said, stating that “Florida is the easiest way to 270 electoral votes.”

The “New South” strategy envisages a total of 274 votes from wins in Virginia and North Carolina, while also losing Iowa and Ohio. “We put the [Democratic National] convention in North Carolina in part because we believe so deeply in this map … [and] we have a lot of Virginians here in Chicago,” Messina said.

The Midwest Path predicts 270 votes from extra victories in Ohio and Iowa, Messina said. “We’ve probably done more work on the ground in Ohio than any other single state in the country.”

The fifth path to victory predicts 272 votes, partly gained from victories in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. That’s possible, Messina said, because Arizona has “hundreds of thousands” of unregistered voters. The campaign has eyed unregistered Hispanics voters for more than a year.

Follow Neil on Twitter