For rate of return on candidate time, that’s pretty sweet.
Money moves through Washington like blood through arteries, and never more so than during election season. For Obama, that means leveraging his advantage as the candidate whose day job is in the heart of downtown.
As his motorcade darts across the city, snarling traffic and sealing off sidewalks, it could be another dash for cash. It is part of a blistering fundraising pace in a campaign in which spending by both candidates and allied groups may exceed $2 billion. Obama’s Friday schedule listed three private gatherings with close-by contributors, including one at the Jefferson hotel, four blocks from his desk.
Donors in New York and California have given more, but the Washington region, with its
vast community of wealthy lawyers, executives, political operatives and players willing to fly in for a few minutes of presidential face time, offers big money virtually at Obama’s doorstep.
Campaign officials will not discuss specific figures, but presidential schedules, statements and published reports show that Obama has raised at least $20 million this year by venturing no farther than 1.4 miles from the White House. Most of the forays have been to caucus with deep-pocketed contributors at nearby hotels, such as the Mandarin, the W and the Jefferson.
Expand that radius by just a few miles and there’s millions more in the form of similarly brief but profitable visits — to private homes. On Jan. 31, after a fundraiser with about 50 donors at the St. Regis on 16th Street NW ($35,800 per person; estimated take: at least $1.8 million), Obama headed to the Chevy Chase residence of Stewart Bainum, chairman of Choice Hotels and Manor Care. For after-dinner remarks and questions from about 70 guests, Obama took in an estimated $2.5 million.
At the Kalorama home of gay activists Nan Schaffer and Karen Dixon on Feb. 9, he secured about $1.4 million. Former DNC chairman and likely 2013 Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe hosted Obama at his McLean residence in April, with Bill Clinton as a featured guest. About 500 people paid $1,000 each for the reception. Eighty dinner guests wrote checks for at least $20,000.
With recent reports showing Obama falling behind Republican Mitt Romney in the money chase, the local fundraising takes on added significance. Donors have been pelted with calls, with campaign bundlers searching for fresh sources of cash while doubling and tripling down on contributors who have not maxed out to their legal limit.