The public got a rare glimpse into President Obama’s anxiety over the distorted impact of big money by means of an audio copy of a phone call call between Obama and big money Democratic donors made Friday when the President was aboard Air Force One.
The president plainly describes the influence that big money is having on the campaign as he tries to cajole his donors—all who gave the maximum amount in 2008—to open their wallets.
Obama offered a scary assessment of what will happen to the country if the Republican big money donors aren’t curtailed.
“I’m asking you to meet or exceed what you did in 2008,” he said, according to the report on the Daily Beast, which obtained a copy of the audio from an anonymous Obama donor. “Because we’re going to have to deal with these super PACs in a serious way. And if we don’t, frankly I think the political [scene] is going to be changed permanently. Because the special interests that are financing my opponent’s campaign are just going to consolidate themselves. They’re gonna run Congress and the White House.”
While Obama clearly is fearful of the way that billionaires like the Koch Brothers, whom he mentions by name, can destroy the democratic process, the president didn’t seem to have much respect for Mitt Romney, comparing him unfavorably to his 2008 opponent Sen. John McCain.
“We’re facing a much different opponent than last time,” the president said. “I don’t mean just the candidate—although last time we were running against somebody who at least believed in climate change, believed in campaign-finance reform, believed in immigration reform. It’s also because the landscape’s changed because of the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United. We are going to see more money spent on negative ads through these super PACs and anonymous outside groups than ever before. And if things continue as they have so far, I’ll be the first sitting president in modern history to be outspent in his reelection campaign.”
Obama stressed to the donors that it is more crucial for him to get money early rather than late, otherwise Romney—who outraised Obama $76 million to $60 million in May—could buy up all the air time now for September and October in the key battleground states.
“I think it’s fair to say that if we wait till the last minute we could be in for a pretty rude surprise, and that’s part of what we’re trying to avoid.”
Obama offered a frank assessment of the circumstances that currently plague him.
“In 2008 everything was new and exciting about our campaign,” Obama said. “And now I’m the incumbent president. I’ve got gray hair. People have seen disappointment because folks had a vision of change happening immediately. And it turns out change is hard, especially when you’ve got an obstructionist Republican Congress.”
“Nevertheless, we’ve gotten more done in the last three years than most presidents do in eight years … I just hope you guys haven’t become disillusioned,” he continued. “I hope all of you still understand what’s at stake and why this is so important … I still believe in you guys, and I hope you still believe in me and the possibilities of this campaign.”