Obama’s Nod to $10 Million Donors

Photograph by Doug Mills/The New York Times via Redux

President Barack Obama during a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio.

Campaigning for re-election, President Barack Obama has alerted supporters to the financial challenge he faces: millionaires and billionaires writing $10 million checks to defeat him.

Those checks are going to super-PACs and “social welfare” committees that draw their money from big donors — undisclosed donors in the case of the special committees — and support the campaign of Republican Mitt Romney.

“Keep in mind the other side has millionaires and billionaires who are writing $10 million checks and running non-stop ads,” Obama told an audience in Las Vegas recently — a line he has repeated at stop after stop.

Yet last night, with Obama appearing at a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel fundraiser and then another, $4 million fundraiser for his campaign at the New York City club of rapper Jay-Z and partner Beyonce, the president was making his own appeal for big checks.

“Our ideas are better and they’re more resonant with the American people,” Obama said at the Waldorf, while warning that pro-Romney super-PACs could “just bury us” with money. “Seven weeks goes by fast,” Obama said.

The president added that, if anyone wants to cut a $10 million check, he can’t solicit it. But he added wryly: “Feel free to use it wisely.”

That’s the kind of money Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the 29th richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has provided for the super-PAC Restore Our Future. The main Romney-supporting super-PAC has reported raising $89.7 million through July, including $10 million from Adelson and his wife.

The super-PAC led by a former Obama White House aide, Priorities USA Action, has had a more difficult time raising money. It has reported raising $25.5 million through July.

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and former White House chief of staff for Obama, recently quit his post as co-chairman of Obama’s campaign to enable him to raise money for the super-PAC. The two efforts are required to be independent. When word of his departure from the campaign got out earlier this month (The Washington Post reported it first), he already had raised $3 million for the super-PAC.

The campaigns and allied parties themselves are limited to relatively smaller-dollar donations, though the president’s Waldorf-Astoria event was collecting $12,500 per family with about 200 guests.

Obama didn’t name him there, but the idea was: We have Rahm’s number.

Mark Silva and Greg Giroux contributed to this report.

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