“We’re not going to just unilaterally disarm,” Obama said at the time.
Last month, Carney, the White House spokesman, noted Obama’s support for changes to federal law that would require greater transparency, including requiring groups to reveal donor information and barring lobbyists from bundling donations.
“The president has been very clear that we should be doing more to reduce the role of money in politics,” Carney said.
Brendan J. Doherty, author of the 2012 book “The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign,” said that each of the three two-term presidents who preceded Obama also engaged heavily in fundraising the year after their reelection.
Ronald Reagan participated in 20 fundraisers for Republicans in 1985, and George W. Bush did 14 in 2005, according to Doherty’s accounting. Bill Clinton, committed to helping the Democratic Party eliminate debt after the 1996 campaign, appeared at a whopping 77 fundraisers in 1997, he said.
The difference for Obama, Doherty said, is his early focus on the House in 2014. The president has committed to eight fundraisers for the lower chamber this year, compared to just five in the year preceding the 2010 midterms, when House Democrats were routed by tea party-fueled Republicans.
“The increased attention on the House by Obama is certainly a sign that efforts to win back the House will be a big focus over the next few years,” Doherty said.
In San Francisco and the wealthy enclave of nearby Atherton, Obama is tapping one of the three traditional Democratic fundraising bases (New York and Los Angeles are the other two).
Before arriving at the Getty mansion Wednesday night, Obama will deliver remarks at a $5,000-per-head cocktail reception at the home of billionaire Tom Steyer, a former asset manager.
On Thursday in Atherton, Obama will appear at the homes of financier Mark W. Heising and Levi-Strauss heir John D. Goldman at events where donors are paying up to $32,400, the maximum annual amount an individual can give a national party committee under campaign finance laws.
The two days of fundraising events, which are expected to bring in several million dollars, are unusual for Obama, since all of them occur in grand private homes. Usually there is a mix between private receptions and lower-priced events geared to a mass audience.
Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, an open-government advocacy group, said Obama and his advisers are foolish to think the public accepts the idea that the president must engage in nonstop fundraising just because opponents are doing so.
“I still think the president is feeding the current system and what we want to do is starve the current system,” Edgar said. “I don’t want the president to disarm, but I want him to lead on reform and set the stage so the next candidates for the White House don’t spend all their time raising money.”
Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.
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