Donations Flood Obama Campaign After Gay Marriage Announcement

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  May 11, 2012 at 9:11 AM EDT

President Obama; photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama greets supporters upon arriving in Seattle on Thursday. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama’s change of heart on same-sex marriage is helping him raise some serious coin.

Since his announcement Wednesday, the president’s re-election campaign has experienced “a major surge in contributions,” reports Dan Eggen of the Washington Post.

From Eggen’s story:

Obama campaign officials declined to say how much money has come in since Wednesday, but one source involved in the effort called the response “astounding.” A spokesman discounted reports that $1 million was donated in the 90 minutes after the president’s announcement….

An increase in contributions from young and progressive donors could be particularly important for Obama as he struggles to match his performance four years ago, when a hard-fought primary contest and an idealistic wave of supporters helped him shatter campaign finance records.

Fundraisers said many donors have chosen to max out their contributions to the campaign and the Democratic Party over the past day as a sign of support for the president’s stance.

The president received another show of financial support Thursday night at a Hollywood fundraiser hosted by actor George Clooney and DreamWorks head Jeffrey Katzenberg. The night fetched in the neighborhood of $15 million, which included a $40,000-per-plate dinner plus an online sweepstakes for two people to join the event.

Part of Mr. Obama’s remarks touched on his endorsement of same-sex marriage. “[O]bviously yesterday we made some news,” the president said to loud applause. “But the truth is it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us? Does that make us stronger? I believe it does.”

According to the pool report, Katzenberg also seemed to allude to the president’s statements on gay marriage, reminding the crowd that Mr. Obama had told them, “Yes, we can.” He then added: “Yes, we have. Yesterday he did the right thing yet again,” drawing applause from those in attendance.

The president also had a little fun at his host’s expense, commenting on Clooney’s display of the “HOPE” poster from the 2008 campaign by Shepard Fairey. “People don’t realize that the photograph of me is actually me sitting next to George,” the president said, and then adding, “This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photo-shopped out of a picture.”

(Though the Associated Press points out, of course, that Fairey drew inspiration from another photograph and only used the Obama-Clooney image to avoid copyright infringement issues.)

Mitt Romney also looked to fill his campaign coffers Thursday, holding a fundraiser in Kansas City that brought in $1.2 million.

During an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Romney faced questions about the president’s position on same-sex marriage. Cavuto asked the former Massachusetts governor if he agreed with Democrats who have framed the debate as a civil rights issue.

“I don’t see it in that light,” Romney said. “I believe that my record as a person who has supported civil rights is strong and powerful. At the same time, I believe that marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history and that marriage is literally by its definition a relationship between a man and woman.”

Romney added: “If two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, and even want to adopt a child — in my state, individuals of the same sex are able to adopt children. In my view, that’s something which people have the right to do. But to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure from the real meaning of that word.”

“I respect the right of the president to reach the conclusion he has,” Romney said. “I presume he respects my right to the position that I’ve had from the beginning of this topic being raised.”

Romney has taken a light approach to the same-sex marriage debate, using words such as “sensitive” and “tender.” At the same time he has been certain not to rile up the conservative base by suggesting that his opposition to gay unions is anything but firm.

For the president, meanwhile, the long-term political consequences are murky, but the short-term pay-off appears to be significant. Plus, that infusion of cash will likely come in handy in a close race this fall.

POLITICAL FALLOUT

Judy Woodruff talked with Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian and Perry Bacon of The Grio to dissect the electoral map and where the president’s marriage position could help — or hurt.

Bacon noted that the issue could make a difference in swing states where there are a lot of white, working-class voters, older voters and church attendees. But at the same time, the move may energize younger and more liberal voters to not only donate and get excited about the campaign, but also to volunteer their time.

Mahtesian agreed but also pointed to “singular counties that are really going to respond to this issue”:

Like, for example, if you were to look at Colorado, when Colorado had a ballot initiative several years ago, you had a very big performance in Colorado Springs and the surrounding county, which would have been El Paso County. Now, that’s sort of the heart of the evangelical community in Colorado and in many ways in the United States and in the West.

It’s a huge, very big city there. Focus on the Family is located there. And that is — when the state passed the measure 54-44, El Paso County came through by — in a landslide margin, 2-1. So it really outpaced the state.

Watch the segment here or below:

LBJ’S POWER

On Thursday’s NewsHour, Gwen Ifill spoke with esteemed Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro about the fourth in his series about the former president, “The Passage of Power.”

Caro dished on the hatred Johnson and Bobby Kennedy shared for each other and gave a chilling and detailed account of what happened in Johnson’s vehicle as President John F. Kennedy was shot.

Don’t miss the great historic photos as you watch the segment here or below:

Gwen also asked Caro just how he writes the Johnson tomes. He admitted people ask him if he’s bored by the former president, but he said that isn’t possible.

“In the first place, how can you be bored by him? But more than that these books aren’t just about — in my opinion, they’re not just about Lyndon Johnson. They’re about different forms of political power. That’s what I’m trying to examine,” Caro said.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Vice President Joe Biden apologized to the president for his comments on gay marriage on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

  • Romney apologized for his some of his high school hijinks after a report surfaced that he had bullied a gay student with some of his pals.

  • The Weekly Standard notes that the Washington Post changed the original version of its story on Romney’s high school misdeeds without issuing a correction.

  • Ahead of the president’s fundraiser with Clooney, the Republican National Committee launched an attack on Mr. Obama’s “celebrity” status. BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller points out it’s not the first time Republicans have used that charge against him.

  • The Washington Times’ Seth McLaughlin notices that Romney’s team looks a lot like George W. Bush’s.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio penned a fundraising email sent by the Romney campaign list. “Don’t miss your chance to meet face-to-face with a great leader during a historic fight for the America we love,” the Florida Republican wrote.

  • Wondering whatever happened with the 5 zillion emails and text messages the Obama campaign sent about the contest to attend the Clooney fundraiser? According to a pool report, at the event were science teacher Beth Topinka from Manalapan, N.J., and Karen Blutcher from St. Augustine, Fla., a utility company employee and mother of a five-year-old son with Down syndrome. The women each brought their husbands.

  • Um.

TOP TWEETS

#FOLLOW FRIDAY

NewsHour politics desk assistant Ryan C. Brooks (@ryancbrooks) has the NewsHour’s recommendations for top tweeters to add to your feed.

@GrahamDavidA
As associate editor at the Atlantic Politics Channel, he’s on top of daily political news and is a good journalist to boot. He’s often talking to other political journalists in D.C. on Twitter and is good to follow if you want to keep a pulse on the media conversation inside the Beltway.

@NKingofDC
A political reporter for the Wall Street Journal, he is a steady voice in the stream of exaggerated and exasperating reporting that can characterize political chatter on Twitter.

@TheStalwart
Joseph Weisenthal is the subject of this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine piece. He’s the deputy editor of Business Insider, an incessant twitterer and, despite the noted exaggeration in his tweets, is on top of the markets.

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Judy ponders partisanship in her latest blog.

  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on a newly surfaced video of Republican Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use a “divide and conquer” strategy toward unions.

  • House Majority PAC is up with another ad attacking Republican House hopeful Jesse Kelly in Arizona’s special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Watch it here.

  • The NewsHour’s Alex Bruns attended a breakfast with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, who says things are looking good for his party.

  • Another poll finds Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s re-election lead tightening in Ohio.

  • The Justice Department has sued Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for civil rights violations.

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said Thursday she had decided to withdraw her dual Swiss citizenship. “I want to make it perfectly clear: I am a proud American citizen,” the former GOP presidential hopeful said in a statement.

  • In the way-too-early category, Public Policy Polling finds Hillary Clinton is really popular in Iowa.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama pushes Congress to act on his “To Do List” in Reno, Nev., at 3:10 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden meets with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain at the White House at 1:30 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds a campaign event in Charlotte, N.C., at 1 p.m.

  • Ron Paul has no public campaign events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz and @indiefilmfan.