The Washington Post

Obama’s big fundraising problem: Himself

I wrote yesterday that no incumbent president has won reelection without a significant fundraising advantage, and that the relative fundraising parity so far between President Obama and Mitt Romney is deeply troubling for the president.

Despite a plethora of excuses to justify the difficulty of fundraising for Team Obama — Wall Street anger, the disappointment of wealthy, progressive donors in the president’s supposed lack of conviction — I think it’s more accurate to blame the president himself.

Fundraising, particularly at this early stage, is 90 percent personal; ie., people need to be stroked and made to feel special by the president or by his closest campaign advisers.

The master of this personal touch was Bill Clinton and his infamous nights in the Lincoln Bedroom. Obama is at the opposite extreme. As has been noted by many, the president dislikes the schmooze of politics, preferring the company of his family and a few confidants. This is an admirable quality under normal human circumstances. And I have never met a politician who actually likes to raise money. It is a demeaning process. But the most successful candidates — Clinton, for example — overcome these objections and turn into fundraising machines. Because they accept personal responsibility for raising the funds necessary to protect their legacy and their future. Now it is Obama’s turn. No one can do it for him.


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