President Obama completed his first series of 2012 fundraising events on Wednesday night by staging three more in New York City. The trio of appearances netted his campaign more than $2 million.
Democratic officials have not released precise figures, but Obama’s stops in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco over the past two weeks have brought in more than $8 million.
The stops also have allowed Obama to try to reconnect with key party activists. In all four cities, the president attended small gatherings with people who gave $5,000 or more to his campaign, a move that could encourage those donors to also persuade their friends and allies to open their wallets.
There were also rallies for donors who gave as little as $100. Those events are designed to fire up Obama supporters, particularly young people, who may have been disengaged from politics the past two years.
“My name is Barack Obama. I was born in Hawaii,” the president declared to loud applause at a low-dollar fundraiser last night at the Town Hall Theater in New York. He was referring to the release on Wednesday of his birth certificate in a likely futile attempt to silence the “birthers.”
Democrats who attended the New York events said Obama’s decision to take on the conspiracy theorists who doubt his citizenship made them even more excited to see the president in person.
“Democrats are ready to stand up and speak out and the White House gave them a rallying cry,” said Robert Zimmerman, a member of the Democratic National Committee and donor.
Obama has a long way to go in terms of fundraising for what will undoubtedly be one of the most expensive White House runs ever. Democratic officials have played down the expectation the president will run the first $1 billion campaign. But Republican outside groups could pump millions into the campaign, as they did in 2010, and Obama might need even more money than the $750 million he amassed in 2008 to win in states where his poll numbers have dipped — particularly in the Midwest.
The recent fundraisers, though filled with supporters, have also showcased the annoyance with the president that some liberals are feeling. At an event in San Francisco last week, a number of attendees broke into song to protest the treatment of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of giving secret information to WikiLeaks. Manning is being held in a military prison, and some liberal activists and rights groups believe he is being treated inhumanely.
On Wednesday, when the president acknowledged he had not reached all of his goals in his first two years in office, a man in the audience shouted “Guantanamo,” a reference to the military prison Obama pledged to close during the 2008 campaign. The president simply kept on giving his speech.
The president will announce a series of national security appointments, including tapping CIA Director Leon Panetta as his new secretary of defense. Gen. David H. Petraeus will replace Panetta as CIA chief. Obama will also meet with a group of influential Hispanic activists on immigration reform.