President Obama greets supporters at a fundraising rally Wednesday in Chicago. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.
Now that Mitt Romney has won two nominating contests, President Obama is starting to step it up.
The White House said the president did not watch the New Hampshire primary returns (final totals from our interactive map: Romney, 97,532 votes; Texas Rep. Ron Paul, 56,848; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, 41,945; former House speaker Newt Gingrich, 23,411; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 23,362).
But you can bet his team in Chicago took note of Romney’s fundraising haul, which was released Wednesday.
The GOP front-runner and former Massachusetts governor raised $24 million in the fourth quarter, all for the primary. And as of Dec. 31, he had $19 million in cash on-hand to spend as his rivals attempt to slow his momentum.
President Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, recorded a video that went out to supporters Thursday morning urging them not to let up on donations because they might think the president will raise $1 billion for his re-election effort. “Too many Obama supporters think we don’t need their money, or they don’t need to give now,” Messina says in the video.
“The billion dollar number is completely untrue,” he says. Messina stressed the campaign needs the money now to build its organization in states. “That means giving now and giving as much as you can between now and when Barack Obama wins in November.”
Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee pulled in $68 million in the fourth quarter from 583,000 people. Donations that went straight to the campaign totaled $42 million. Messina said the campaign has now received money from 1.3 million people (for a grand total of $222 million in 2011). In the fourth quarter, more than 200,000 gave for the first time and 98 percent gave $250 or less, he said. That’s likely in part to a meal-with-the-president contest that the campaign offered to supporters who gave small amounts.
The president rallied aides at his campaign headquarters in a surprise visit to the Chicago home base Wednesday afternoon.
As the president dropped by, Messina (@Messina2012) tweeted that Mr. Obama “[g]ave one of the most inspirational talks I’ve ever heard. My intro of him: not so much!”
Afterward, the president held three fundraising events, beginning with a low-dollar gathering at the University of Illinois-Chicago that included R&B singer Janelle Monae and “CSI: NY” star and longtime Obama pal Hill Harper.
In a nod to his 2008 campaign message of hope and change, the president pointed to a number of actions taken by his administration, such as restructuring the auto industry, ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” bringing the war in Iraq to a close and passing health care reform.
He told his supporters not to become “complacent” or feel “satisfied” by those changes, because they would be targets of a new Republican administration.
“Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election,” Mr. Obama declared. “The very core of what this country stands for is on the line — the basic promise that no matter who you are, where you come from, this is a place where you can make it if you try. That’s at stake in this election,” he added.”
First lady Michelle Obama also was on the trail Wednesday, sounding a similar theme to supporters in the battleground state of Virginia.
“Whether it’s health care or the economy, whether it’s education or foreign policy, the choice we make will determine nothing less than who we are as a country, but, more importantly, who do we want to be,” she told supporters in Richmond.
Mrs. Obama then asked: “Will we continue all the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made? Or will we allow everything we’ve fought for to just slip away? That is the choice we face. Those are the stakes.”
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
The Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time runs down some big fundraisers on tap for Huntsman and Gingrich:
Huntsman is heading to New York City on Thursday for a $1,000-a-person cocktail fundraiser at the home of business executive Lynn Forester de Rothschild. The Boston Globe also reported that the former Utah governor scheduled two Florida fundraisers, in Palm Beach on Jan. 22 and in Hobe Sound on Jan. 23.
Gingrich is scheduled to headline the Orange County Republican Executive Committee’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 28. Tickets range from $150 to $2,500, according to Party Time.
Clemson University’s David Woodard told the NewsHour Wednesday night that South Carolina voters can expect an inundation of political ads before the Jan. 21 primary. “All the TV has been bought in South Carolina for the whole week,” Woodard told Gwen Ifill. “It’s just really numbing how quickly they are coming here.”
A big focus of those ads is likely to be Romney’s tenure at the investment firm Bain Capital. The NewsHour took a detailed look at the firm in a don’t-miss explanatory segment Wednesday night.
John Harwood analyzes the debate over capitalism in the New York Times.
The pro-Gingrich super PAC finally released its 28-minute film focused on Romney and Bain. The Washington Post reported that Winning our Future will finally spend money putting this message on the airwaves in the form of 30- and 60-second clips of the film. Until the “documentary” came out, the extent of the effort was a two-minute trailer. You can watch the full film here.
Politico’s Ken Vogel explores the three billionaires who could ensure the Republican primary drags on: Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and Jon Huntsman Sr. Adelson, of course, gave $5 million to the Gingrich super PAC. Friess was a “major financial backer” of a Santorum super PAC and plans to invest more in the effort. Huntsman Sr. has funneled millions into positive TV spots for his son.
The Washington Post’s Steve Hendrix delivers a great lead on an issue that’s likely to bubble up in the coming days: “If the New Hampshire primary is all over but the shouting, then it’s time for South Carolina to brace for the whispers.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry released a new positive spot focused on his military service.
Talking Points Memo’s Eric Kleefeld asked CNN why it’s including Perry in upcoming debates given his low polling threshold. Washington bureau chief Sam Feist detailed the polls they looked at and broke it down, “As far as I’m concerned, he gets in — any way you look at it, he receives an invitation.”
Slate contributor Sasha Issenberg asks, Do campaign signs work?
And check out the Patchwork Nation breakdown of how Romney was able to win so decisively in New Hampshire.
John Bolton, who was ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush and who flirted with a presidential bid last year, is endorsing Romney, the campaign announced Thursday morning. Gingrich has been telling voters on the campaign trail for months that if he became president, he’d make Bolton his secretary of state.
MORMONS IN AMERICA
From NewsHour reporter-producer Elizabeth Summers.
A large percentage of Mormon Americans feel their religion is misunderstood, unaccepted and sometimes discriminated against. At the same time, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, there’s a sense among Mormons that things might be changing, and a majority believe the country may be ready to elect a Mormon president.
The report is the first-ever national survey of Mormons published by a non-religious research organization. The study’s lead researcher, Greg Smith, said he was struck by the mixed picture the results revealed.
“More than 60 percent of Mormons say Americans are uninformed about their religion, and just under half — 46 percent — say they feel discriminated against,” Smith told the Morning Line. “But 63 percent of those surveyed say Mormonism is beginning to become more mainstream, and over half — 56 percent — of Mormons say the country is ready for a Mormon president.”
Politically, the survey found that Mormons trend conservative. Two-thirds (66 percent) identified themselves as conservative, compared to 37 percent of all Americans. Romney was seen in a positive light by 86 percent of those surveyed. Indeed, Romney’s favorable ratings were as high among Mormon Democrats as they were among Republicans in the general population. Other Mormon figures respondents were asked about got lower reviews, with just half voicing a favorable view of Huntsman, although some of that discrepancy is likely due to name recognition. One-quarter of those surveyed weren’t able to offer an opinion on Huntsman one way or the other. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., received a favorability rating of just 22 percent.
Remember the comments made by Texas pastor Richard Jeffress that evangelical Christians would never accept Mormonism as “part of the Christian family” last October? The Pew study explored the relationship between Mormons and evangelical Christians, and the results were “complicated,” said Smith, the lead researcher.
“These are two groups that have quite a fair amount in common with each other. Large numbers of both groups are conservative politically and support the Republican Party, and majorities of both groups pray regularly and exhibit high levels of religious commitment.”
Despite those similarities, there are real signs of tension. Fifty percent of Mormons surveyed said they sense a significant amount of hostility from evangelical Christians, while 21 percent thought they were neutral. Eighteen percent said they thought evangelicals were generally friendly toward the Mormon religion. Separate research by Pew has shown that 47 percent of evangelicals do not consider Mormonism a Christian religion, despite the fact the vast majority of Mormons consider themselves Christians.
Among the study’s other findings was that more than half (54 percent) of respondents said the portrayal of Mormonism in the entertainment industry hurts society’s image of their religion, compared to just 15 percent who thought it was helpful. It was more of a mixed picture when it came to the news media. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said news coverage of their religion is generally fair, while 38 percent said it was unfair.
TWEET OF THE MORNING
ELSEWHERE IN POLITICS…
A Mississippi judge has temporarily blocked the release of 21 inmates who’d been given pardons or medical release by Republican Haley Barbour in one of his final acts as governor.
Politico reports that New DNC Convention rules set off a K Street scramble.
Presumptive Democratic Senate nominee Elizabeth Warren raised $5.7 million for her bid to unseat GOP Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts in one of the marquis Senate battles.
Virginia redistricting starts over with the GOP holding more control.
Roll Call’s Janie Lorber reports that the number of employees of major companies who claim to have witnessed illegal contributions to public officials is four times higher than it was two years ago, according to a new study from a business ethics watchdog group.
ON THE TRAIL
All events listed in Eastern Time.
Mitt Romney holds two rallies: in Greer, S.C., at 7:45 a.m. and West Palm Beach, Fla., at 12 p.m.
Rick Perry makes five South Carolina campaign stops: in Blythewood at 9 a.m., Orangeburg at 12 p.m., Summerville at 2 p.m. and Walterboro at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Jon Huntsman holds a campaign event in Daniel Island, S.C., at 8:30 a.m.
Newt Gingrich holds a rally in Columbia, S.C., at 10 a.m. and delivers remarks at 12 p.m.
Rick Santorum holds four South Carolina campaign stops: in Sun City at 10 a.m., Hilton Head at 12 p.m., Beaufort at 3 p.m. and Charleston at 7 p.m.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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