President Barack Obama's campaign team told top donors Friday they hope to raise a combined $55 million during a three-month period ending in late September, warning of an impending fundraising onslaught from Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
Obama's key fundraisers gathered in Chicago for a quarterly update from the campaign, which outlined combined fundraising goals for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee through Sept. 30, according to two people who viewed the presentation. They spoke on condition of anonymity and were not authorized to speak publicly about the strategy session.
Campaign manager Jim Messina told bundlers, the well-connected donors who raise campaign cash from friends and business associates, that they expect Romney and Perry to have significant quarters because of dozens of fundraising events planned, according to participants.
He also noted that several Republican outside groups are building strong operations. American Crossroads, which has been linked to Karl Rove, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, recently doubled its fundraising goal to more than $240 million and said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a top Republican rainmaker, would help its fundraising efforts. Outside groups have also been formed to support Romney and Perry.
Obama jumped out to a large fundraising lead, collecting a combined $86 million through the end of June, but the Republican field is expected to cut into his cash advantage. Perry, who entered the GOP field last month, has been a prodigious fundraiser as Texas governor, while Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, brought in $18 million for his campaign through late June and is expected to post strong fundraising numbers.
Campaign officials have tried to lower expectations for the fundraising quarter after Obama scratched events during the debt ceiling negotiations. Messina told the donors the $55 million amount was "an ambitious goal" because of the canceled fundraisers and typically slow campaign money period during the summer.
Several donors said they were invigorated by Obama's jobs speech to Congress, which they watched Thursday night at the campaign's headquarters overlooking the city's Millennium Park. Many said the policy proposals would help them persuade people to donate to Obama's re-election bid.
"No one had seen him with that much emotion and fire since the `08 campaign," said Dick Harpootlian, a Columbia, S.C., attorney who chairs the state's Democratic party. "The crowd this morning is much more excited and energized than the crowd that came in yesterday."
Obama is expected to hold fundraisers in New York on Sept. 20 and travel to the West Coast for fundraising events Sept. 25-26 in Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles, campaign officials said. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend fundraisers in Charleston, S.C., Boca Raton, Fla., and Miami later this month.
The donors received briefings on the campaign and policy issues from chief campaign strategist David Axelrod, DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard, and White House aides Pete Rouse, Melody Barnes and Stephanie Cutter.
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