Obama fund-raisers gear up for 2012 

As a candidate, Barack Obama raised more money than any previous presidential aspirant, just under $750 billion in fact. Running for reelection, Obama is looking to increase his take in 2010 and is gearing up accordingly.

Unfortunately, however, he's having a bit of difficulty in so doing because the image of centrism he presented during the 2008 campaign hasn't really been reality, at least in terms of economic policy:

Simply duplicating that record-breaking sum would be a feat, particularly when Obama’s candidacy won’t be softly wrapped in the inspirational and historic themes of his first race, but he’ll run on an ambitious record of legislative accomplishments – victories that haven’t yet been embraced by his liberal base but have energized his Republican adversaries.

Among the fundraising meccas that could prove most vexing is New York City, which ranked as the top metropolitan fundraising source for Obama’s presidential campaign three years ago, producing $42 million in donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan tracker of political money.

A good chunk of that cash came from hedge fund investors who were drawn to Obama’s pledges to usher in a new way of doing things in Washington. Although the White House sent senior aides, such as Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Austan Goolsbee, to try to assuage the angst, not everyone has been mollified.

Daniel Loeb, founder of the Third Point Management hedge fund, wrote a scathing December rant to fellow Obama Wall Street bundlers – fundraisers who tap their own networks of friends to drive cash to the campaign — suggesting the perfect holiday gift for each of them: A book about battered wives who can’t leave their abusive husbands.

“I am sure, if we are really nice and stay quiet, everything will be alright and the President will become more centrist and that all his tough talk is just words,” Loeb wrote. “I mean when I am alone with him – at $30,000 a plate fund raisers – he’s really nice and once I got invited to the White House!”

The recent hiring of former Clinton Administration commerce sectretary Bill Daley to be his chief of staff is the first in a series of moves that will be designed to try to patch up things with the fat cat donors who have been put off.

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Matthew Sheffield

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